The other day, I did a Periscope about becoming a thought leader or industry expert. I wanted to share that tip here, but first I’d like to discuss the idea of thought leadership.

It’s highly valuable to be considered an expert in your field. Not only does it lead to career advancement, accolades and the respect of your professional peers, it also can improve your bottom line. In the land of small shops and entrepreneurship, becoming a thought leader is important in establishing yourself in the marketplace and building clientele. However, thought leadership can benefit people within larger organizations and nonprofits.

Ultimately, a thought leader is someone who is considered an expert in an industry. This doesn’t mean that you are expected to know everything about the industry. It means you are looked at as a source in your industry. It means that you know where to go to find the most valid answer and can often provide context when asked.

I bet you can do that right now, can’t you?

Of course you can. You are working in a specific industry. You’ve likely studied the subject in school, whether it was a college, trade school or real life experience. You are an expert in the general sense. The key is to become considered an expert by others. This is where thought leadership comes into the picture.

However, blogs, websites and social media make it possible for you to share your expertise with the world in a way that didn’t exist previously. The important thing is to look for ways to go beyond talking about your industry and sharing information written by others.

One way to do that is by discussing industry trends. You don’t have to become a professional researcher or statistician to discuss trends. Here’s how you can use this deep industry knowledge to your advantage

  1. Go back and read which trends were discussed at the end of the previous year.
  2. Track three to five of those trends to see how things develop with them.
    • Google Alerts
    • Talkwalker Alerts
  3. Share your thoughts on the state of those trends in June or July online (choose the outlet you prefer – blog post, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, podcast, etc)
  4. Include a forecast for one or two of those trends. Make an educated guess about where you see the trend going.
  5. Follow up with a trend post in December. Discuss whether your forecast came true and any other changes you noticed.

Voila! You’re not playing in the sandbox with other industry experts!