This is a transcribed excerpt from Kelso Consulting's recent "Becoming a thought leader from home" webinar looking at 5 strategies that can be applied from home to raise your reputation for expertise.
When people hear the term “thought leadership” they often think of some sort of blockbuster piece of research. That is certainly one approach, but for most people furloughed and self-employed professionals it is a tall order.
In fact, there are a number of approaches to being seen as a thought leader, an expert or perhaps a thought-provoker which very much apply to people on this webinar.
I have come up with names for each, some poor and needing work, but bear with me on those.
· The Commentator
· The Radar
· The Aggregator
· The Connector
· The Wimbledon
· The Technical Expert (not recommended! See next week’s blog)
So, what are these approaches in more detail?
With the Commentator, clearly it's using your knowledge to provide informed comment as an industry expert on something. And this could be breaking developments, it could be new laws, it could be this, that and the other. But it's to give some sort of comment that adds values rather than explaining rules. You might be talking a bit about the problems or why it's a missed opportunity or the opportunities it opens up or will people welcome it or those sorts of things.
It's very much a pundit type role. You're there using your knowledge to provide informed comment, not so much on technical detail but the problems, opportunities and challenges arising
An alternative strategy is the Radar strategy where you scan for, perhaps, interesting research, interesting developments to share. With this, people start to value you because you are providing them with interesting and relevant information. The fact that you're going through this process makes you more knowledgeable. You also get the halo effect of sharing lots of leading-edge material, which makes people start to associate you with it.
For instance, if you share interesting stuff from the Harvard Business Review, it very much creates a different impression of you than if you share cute cat pictures and interesting stories from The Sun newspaper.
The Aggregator is another approach many can do.
Here you are typically doing a weekly or periodic update of interesting developments, interesting news. The whole purpose here is doing it regularly, whereas a Radar just does it ad hoc. Whether there's something interesting or not, you have to do it and find something. Its regularity means people recognise it, expect it and subscribe to it.
With the Connector, I'm not talking about connecting people, I'm talking about connecting two different subjects to bring new knowledge and insights.
An example of this would be, say, you want to be seen as an expert on Covid-19 and its business impacts. A Connector might look one hundred years ago to Spanish Flu and talk about what can we learn from that pandemic and how it was handled.
The connection might be historic, or the connection might be geographic, and an example of this would be: we're doing X in Britain: what can we learn from Mongolia or what can we learn from Korea? Or what can we learn from the Germans? So, it's a geographic connection.
Another example would be a cross-sector connection. So, if you wanted to be seen as an expert on the professional services sector, you might say: What can professional services learn from the retail sector? What can it learn from transport sector or whatever.
Finally, the Wimbledon strategy. And if you don't fancy any of those or you're feeling worried that you don't have enough knowledge about your subject, then the Wimbledon strategy is the perfect one for you.
With the Wimbledon tennis competition, in the days before Andy Murray and probably the days after too, Britain hosted the world's greatest grass tennis tournament yet never won it for decades.
We had no one who even looked remotely coming close to winning it, yet we hosted the best grass court tennis competition. So, with this approach, the analogy is you host the “competition” without necessarily taking too active a part in providing the insights.
This might be you interviewing people or writing case studies, and draw out insights from other people, or maybe you chair discussions rather than presenting them.
In fact, this approach has made all sorts of business gurus famous through them case studying businesses, drawing out a few lessons and then going off and ranting about them in books and on the conference circuit.
But it need not be the full-on guru approach, it could just be you writing up case studies of interesting examples in your area of interest. It could be doing a podcast where you interview someone else on a particular topic. It could be hosting online discussions. So again, you're not necessarily getting involved too deeply with it.
It could be cynically said you are piggybacking on the expertise of other people, but ultimately it's rubbing off on you, both in terms of the halo effect that you're associated with these sorts of things. It is also all about building up your knowledge on the subject as well.. after all, everyone has to start somewhere: even the biggest expert had help from knowledgeable people all along their journey.
So these are a range of strategies here and having looked at the people who are on this webinar, there is absolutely no excuse for any one of you not being able to pursue at least one of these and probably take your pick of all of them.
Click here for the full webinar as video or podcast.