Several years back, I met a business owner who introduced himself to me as a thought leader in his field. I found this introduction awkward and a bit unusual, especially because he wasn’t an author, and his website was a flat, basic site that looked like every other consultant’s site in his rather broad field. There was no blog or podcast or social media presence that demonstrated his expertise or unique voice.

It seems he simply decided to call himself a thought leader. But that’s not exactly how it works. defines a thought leader as “a person whose views are taken to be authoritative and influential.”

I define a thought leader like this:

Someone who consistently demonstrates expertise and unique perspectives in their subject matter through content marketing strategies. This can include a combination of tactics including a book, podcast, video, blog, social media, speaking engagements, media interviews, white papers, articles, and reports.

Thought leadership is not a title to be claimed, but one that is earned. It is earned from experience and knowledge and a unique perspective on your subject matter, that is then amplified through content marketing practices.

Benefits of Establishing Thought Leadership

When you do the work to earn a seat at the thought leadership table, all kinds of opportunities can happen. Here are some potential benefits:

  • Increase book sales.
  • Get a book deal with a traditional publisher.
  • Attract media interviews.
  • Grow an audience of readers who become lifelong fans.
  • Get invited to speak.
  • Work with corporate sponsors.
  • Monetize your expertise through teaching, consulting, etc.
  • Attain career advancement.

Whatever your motivation for establishing yourself as a thought leader, following are a variety of strategies to help make this your reality.

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