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Tap into the power of social Thought Leaders - Join the ranks and superpower your credibility

Posted: 09 March 2016

At a time when everyone and their mums has a chance to have a social voice, the importance of thought leaders is evermore recognised. It's wonderful that social media has given us all a global platform to share a message and connect with the biggest audience going. It's given brands, candidates and employers a massive stage to reach out and build a reputation on.

With a steady flow of content populating our feeds, we could all do with that extra credibility boost that gets us to the top of the pile. Thought leaders are great at doing just that. So how can you connect with these social thought leaders? How can you become a thought leader too and earn yourself some reputation-boosting credibility?

The Dos & Don’ts of how to engage with thought leaders.

The thought leadership title isn’t awarded easily. Today’s social media platforms and the communities that live there really value this status. It’s associated with authenticity, trust and impact - all the things that can elevate you to bigger and better followers and then who knows what! As such, anyone hoping to engage with thought leaders needs to think carefully about the best ways to make that connection.

Do - work to become a thought leader.

It doesn’t happen overnight and it does take a lot of hard work. Folk can spot a TL faker a million miles off so if you’re not dedicated to being one, don’t start on your journey. People respond to honesty and relate to life experiences so whilst on your road to thought leadership reach out to those who have rocketed to that status recently. Ideally touch base with someone you have a common tie with, either by industry or a mutual connection.

Don’t - claim to be one without the proof.

Nothing will lose you your reputation like this. Thought leadership comes from sharing, giving to a community so don’t expect people to buy into you as an expert if you don’t have the respect of an active audience. If you reach out to TLs with a few followers but no solid record of quality engagement it’s all over.

Do - your research and build a relationship.

There’s a lot of different thought leaders that may be able to help you and boost your credibility. Spend time getting to know the most influential and interesting ones, being sure to move with industry. List your thought leader dream list, detailing potential avenues for connection and mutual interests. Make a start on building up that relationship at slow pace, start with a follow a few shares and maybe the odd question. Be patient and establish your value before making the contact.

Don’t - go in for the big ask straight away.

This will go down like a lead balloon. The TL community is about trust and sharing, if you go in with a request off the bat you’ll only damage the credibility you already have established. Play the long game.

Do - live by the Thought Leader ethos.

You can’t fake it until you make it here folks. Get busy creating and curating articles, blogs, seminars, podcasts, anything that can define you as an expert and influential in your field. Share without asking for anything in return and really aim to help your community.

Don’t - get started if you don’t intend to keep it up.

It takes a truck load of commitment to see you on your way to thought leadership status. Any bumps in the road or prolonged absences from social media will flag you up as inconsistent.

Do - design your message & refine your needs.

You can’t just start sharing like a madman, mass isn’t what thought leadership is about. Clarity of message and a unique and dedicated take on an expertise is what it’s all about. Know what your big message and values are. What exactly can a thought leader help you do? How can they further your goals and why should they help? Be sure to ask yourself these big Qs, your thought leaders will ask you the exact same ones.

Don’t - go overboard with name dropping.

If you do manage to develop a real connection with a thought leader don’t overuse it. Create a strategy around how they can help your case and share this with them. Don’t be greedy or thoughtless with their affiliation, it’s a precious and trusted thing. All mentions and connections must be purely authentic.

These influential experts are fluent at quality connection and can do wonders for any brand or person affiliated with them. Tapping into this illusive group is not easy, and neither it should be. And building your identity as a thought leader is even tougher. Commit to this adventure and make sure you have the tools and resources in place to support and document your journey.

Do you like this stuff? Then join over 21,000 other awesome people who get tips on improving their employer brand, recruitment, marketing and the odd spot of career advice delivered directly to their inbox from me! @markbevans