As the face of your B2B advisory firm, you’re interacting with customers and partners every day. Do they consider you a go-to expert in your industry? If not, how can you position yourself – and your business – as a valuable resource?
When you’re an expert, you owe it to others to share your knowledge. Becoming a true thought leader, though, takes more than great information. Your authority can only be granted by those around you – and you must earn it. Here are some best practices for sharing your expertise as a thought leader.
Start from a place of respect.
Think about your recent business conversations, bylined blogs or articles, social media posts and presentations. Did you provide useful information to your audience? What tone did you use? Unchecked, experts tend to preach – which is the last thing you need when trying to connect with your audience.
Be sure you’re giving your readers and listeners the respect they deserve. Remember, others are likely to be more knowledgeable about what they do than you. They may be experts too; just in a different area. Try entering every exchange with a touch of humility, an understanding that you know many things – but not everything.
When you speak or write, strive to inspire. Use anecdotes, examples, or stories to bring your message to life. Others will enjoy and remember what you have to say.
Even if you’re discussing a serious subject, use a warm, friendly tone to invite others into the conversation. Imagine chatting about your topic with a friend or colleague over coffee, not presenting an academic defense. Use plain language, rather than fanciful or technical terms your audience won’t know. Speak as if you’re reminding friends of what you already have in common.
Taking this approach will remind you what they’re up against. What their challenges are. What their needs are. What obstacles they face. By crafting your message with their situation in mind, you’ll show that you understand. And you’ll share your expertise using a collaborative, problem-solving approach.
No one wants to hear you brag about how well you understand complex systems or theories. They want to understand, though.
Can you make the complex simple? People will appreciate and respect you for making the topic more accessible – and will eagerly join the conversation.
Did you know? What do you think? What have you seen? By asking questions, your reader or listener becomes curious to know the answer. It gives you a chance to share what you’ve learned. Questions also provide an opportunity for you to learn more from others!
Whether answers come from you or your audience, questions increase engagement and create connections.
Share your passion.
If you’re speaking, you have the power of intonation to help you communicate the enthusiasm of your message. When you write, you must rely on words to convey your passion.
Select words and phrases that introduce drama. Don’t be sure, be completely certain. Don’t be happy, be absolutely thrilled. Don’t be bored, be bored-to-tears.
Connect the dots. But don’t color.
Trust your readers and listeners to draw their own conclusions about what you’re saying to them. Your job is to clearly present your information and arguments. Offer your viewpoint as one opinion. Then step away.
Your audience will most likely adopt your opinions if they come to the same conclusion on their own.
Keep it short.
When writing and speaking, short sentences are best. Sentences with fewer than 30 words are easiest to read and remember. They’re more dynamic and energetic. They keep the reader awake. Long sentences slow people down and make reading and listening less fun, less rewarding.
When you’ve made your points, conclude with a short wrap-up. Your audience will thank you for being concise.
To become an industry thought leader, start by keeping your audience in mind. As you connect and listen and learn and exchange ideas, you’ll soon be shaping conversations your industry cares about. If you’re looking for support to hone your message or strategy, let us know. We’d be happy to help!