Currently, the fields of writing, lawyering and producing energy are glutted. Sure, some in those businesses are thriving. But many others are struggling to figure out how to make a living amidst changing realities.
Thought leadership is experiencing the same kind of glut. It takes more than a trending topic, sticky communications tactics, being authentically earnest and even a brandname (usually a fading one) to get and grow attention.
Here are 5 tips how to build influence, despite the glut.
Observe successful players. They range from venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, to grassroots aging expert, Betty White. Take an audit of their strategy and tactics. Assess which you can incorporate in your persona, tone, content and choice of venues.
Differentiate topic and approach. There are plenty of missions and good causes. Not every one is worth anyone's attention, at least not as they are currently positioned and packaged. We all know there is global income inequality. So? How does your take make people focus on that issue?
Some ideas about how to develop a niche can come from reading commentary in high-traffic establishment and new media. One-time digital upstart Abovethelaw.com (ATL) became hot fast and sustained its reach by being an advocate of law students and lawyers in their first few years of their careers. Not only is ATL's managing editor, David Lat, a force field. So are its journalists, such as Joe Patrice.
Develop unique metrics for assessing how you're doing. The raw traffic numbers, shares, likes and comments may be irrelevant. What may count is whom you are reaching. If you need the minds and hearts of America's Everyman, not GOP leaders, you might have to do course correction. What to measure depends on what your target markets are.
Be totally open. The default of too many thought leaders is to settle into a little bit of space. That's the platform that might have initially been effective for them. And they continue to leverage that tactic even when it not only becomes the law of diminishing returns but takes on the characteristics of being a public nuisance.
There is an old business saying: Nothing fails like success.
Respect followers. Arrogance is over. There might even be bad karma associated with that kind of disrespect. One over-the-top nasty client wound up losing it all, at least for now. He may or may not be able to have the social intelligence to engineer a professional and social comeback.
There is no rule in any book which specifies that thought leaders have to be famous. What they want and perhaps need is to influence. That might be public opinion or behavior. Therefore, thought leaders include parents, community activists campaigning for a traffic light on X street, sponsors in 12-step programs, teachers, social workers and even tweeters with 14 followers.
When human beings recognize that they are making a difference, even a tiny one, the satisfaction can be awesome. Second-wave feminism gained traction as one woman helped another woman sort through the lousy reasons for marrying a particular Mr. Man.