In almost every industry, there are a few people or businesses that watch trends, see where the industry is headed, and share unique insights—thought leaders. These people and organizations are the ones that you check on regularly for innovation, market challenges, new initiatives, etc.
The thought leadership position is certainly an advantageous position to have, as it can help with generating sales, lead generation, recruitment and retention, and new business opportunities. While sometimes this thought leadership position will come about completely organically, many times it is part of an overall sales strategy and much time and consideration has been put in to developing the plan to make this happen.
6 ways you can tell if you or your business is currently seen as a thought leader:
1. Do others in your industry regularly come to you to seek your advice?
Formally or informally, are you or your company the place where others in your industry turn when they need some ideas on the important issues?
2. Have you been asked to speak or write on issues for your industry?
Often the thought leaders in an industry are the ones that you see speaking at conferences or writing in trade magazines.
3. Does your opinion or view of a situation shape the conversation in your industry?
Do you find that your opinion or your company's opinion is supported by others in your industry? Often the thought leaders opinion will shape the conversation on important issues.
4. Do you find that you're one step ahead of others in your industry?
The thought leader is out on the leading edge. And in most cases, this position is allowing for greater and greater success. Others in the industry see these leading edge moves and follow as they can.
5. Do you do things that make your competitors see you as a leader?
Thought leaders do things that are typically good for their industry. They think bigger than just their situation and seem to always have a different and sometimes bigger view of what's going on and what needs to be done.
6. When there is a new idea, do others come to you to learn your opinion?
Thought leaders are always the ones that people turn to when a new idea is breaking. Are you (or is your company) the place that people in your industry turn when someone has a new idea in your industry?
If establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry is important to you and your company, then start by building a plan to make it happen. Think about who you will be talking to in your industry and how you will communicate and distribute your thoughts and ideas. Thought leadership has many fantastic business advantages, and it can be accomplished when you have a plan and a commitment to working that plan.