Thought Leaders Write

Over the next few weeks, I’m featuring excerpts from my forthcoming research report, “But Mom Told Me Never to Brag: Overcoming the Thought Leadership Hurdles.” Today’s post focuses on writing as a thought leadership tool.

Some thought leaders break down the barriers to braggadocio through their writing, for this can pay off in a heightened reputation. The biggest bang comes from a book, though I don’t advise publishing a book and waiting for the phone to ring.

A book has other advantages. For instance, authors are able to separate themselves from the pack and lend legitimacy to their reputations. How? By sending prospective clients a copy of their book instead of a raft of marketing material.

If you don’t feel that you have an entire book in you, certain commercial publishers and associations put together anthologies consisting of chapters or shorter thought pieces written by outside contributors. One place to start may be checking the web site of an association to which you belong for publications that may be a good fit for a thought piece with your byline.

There is a range of other publications, both print and electronic, seeking articles from expert writers. Define the target market you are trying to reach, determine what they read, and approach the editors with some ideas for content-rich articles. This affords you a tactful way to brag that would make Mom proud.

“A constant article-writing stream keeps one’s visibility and credibility high and constant,” advises Ken Lizotte, Chief Imaginative Officer of emerson consulting group. “To produce only one or two articles means people will soon forget you. But keeping articles coming conveys the message that the author is a thought leader year in and year out.”

The membership organizations to which you belong are likely to distribute a newsletter or two to members and others. Why not contact the editor and kick around some story ideas (always remind them that you are a member; that helps a lot). The best thing about this approach is your ability to submit multiple articles over time.

Your web site is another good place to feature articles. While it doesn’t have quite the cachet of someone else publishing them, it still gets your content into the public domain and can raise your visibility on search engines. Moreover, it’s far easier to post something on your own than to deal with an editor. I recommend combining these techniques—aim to place articles in external publications with some regularity while rotating content on your web site more frequently.

Frequency matters. “Studies of the ‘ROI of thought leading’ which primarily means writing and publishing articles and/or books have consistently shown a definite correlation between publishing one’s ideas and higher levels of revenue, profit and word of mouth referrals,” says Lizotte, also the author of The Expert’s Edge: Become the Go-To Authority that People Turn to Every Time. “Anecdotal evidence also bears this out. So publishing one’s ideas absolutely separates the business author from his or her competition.”

A blog represents another means of consistently sharing your subject matter with the world. One important note: If you start a blog, you’ve got to contribute regularly. There is little that shatters reputation more effectively in the online world than a blog that someone has not updated in months or years.

If you are not up to maintaining your own blog, consider chiming in on other blogs with enough persistence and merit that you eventually become noted as a respected member of that community.

You may find that some of these methods work better for you than others. That is as it should be. If you want to focus all your energy on writing a book, great. If you’d prefer to operate a blog rather than deal with editors, fine. The trick is to find the combination of approaches that is best for your individual situation.


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