As a content officer, conference producer, event planner or even a CEO for an event company, you probably have a lot on your plate already – and the prospect of striving to become a thought leader might seem daunting. However, as the face of your organisation with your potential delegates, it’s absolutely critical that you outwardly portray that you’re an authority within the industry your event serves. There isn’t a quick fix to ensure you’re regarded as such, but we’ve figured out the ultimate approach to get yourself, and your events, noticed.
1. Be social
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to make sure your image across your Twitter, LinkedIn and Google + profiles is consistent, considered and makes you appear professional, engaged and commanding. Update each channel regularly, and involve yourself with discussions rather than simply posting links. Nobody will view you as an authority if you don’t maintain a presence on social platforms so if you haven’t perfected your social strategy, focus on this first.
2. Build a following
Join existing online communities relating to your event sector and participate properly. Post ideas, engage in debate and establish yourself as somebody who knows their stuff. As a figurehead for your conference, you’ll signal that prospects can expect the same quality of content and high level of knowledge at your events. Online communities are also a valuable opportunity to engage with existing thought leaders, and learn from them. You should look to cultivate your own online community once your following begins to take shape. If you don’t think you have enough interested parties to get a community together then work harder within these groups –or reassess what you’ve been doing so far.
3. Publish yourself
If you don’t have your own blog, you’re wasting a hugely valuable opportunity to engage with your prospects. With the experience you’ve gained as an event industry leader you certainly shouldn’t be short of things to write about – share the detailed knowledge, and insights you’ve gained over the course of your many events produced, attended and conversations had. Respond to any comments you receive and remain open to criticism and debate - there’s no point reaching out with bland content, so don’t worry if you ruffle a few feathers!
4. Get published elsewhere
Being featured in a relevant industry publication for your event sector will boost your profile enormously and cement your position as a thought leader. In an ideal world, your blog, community or simply your comments would invite enough attention for a publisher to approach you – but don’t be afraid to reach out! Offer to contribute to magazines, other blogs or content platforms. If your social presence is strong, and your internal blog posts have been well received, you’ll be looked upon favourably. An external endorsement by a trusted source of industry insight will lift your status and could open a lot of doors.
5. Be honest, consistent, and approachable
The secret to success for many people who are considered thought leaders within their industry is that yes, they know their stuff and they demonstrate a wealth of experience and knowledge - but more than that, they seem like genuine people. Increasingly in B2B, people are looking to make real connections with their peers or those they have admiration for, and they really value a personalised approach. Respond to your social media mentions, be active below the line when you post blogs or articles, interact with your thought ‘followers’ on a regular basis – and do it for the right reasons. Your audience will see past you if all you want to do is increase your event sales. You need to strive to add value with a personal touch.
Have you got what it takes?
Being a thought leader isn’t for everyone, but if you think you can do it, then what are you waiting for? Take the plunge, start putting yourself out there and make genuine connections with others in your community. If you truly know the industry, and you should, then have confidence in your knowledge and your opinions, and don’t be afraid to shake things up. Thought leaders are united by absolute faith in their own ideas, but equally in their openness to learning, evolving and adapting. How cool would it be if you could put that title on your CV?
And in relation to your events, think about Seth Godin, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington - how compelled would you feel to attend a conference where you might have the opportunity to connect with them?
Image Credit: Craig Steppe