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3 Ways to Become a Thought Leader and the Go-To Person at Work

The CEO doesn't have to be the only thought leader at the company. Here's how to step up, lead, and be seen as a subject matter expert at your company.

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When we think of thought leaders and big names in business, we often think of the people at the top. The CEOs or presidents that speak in public, write articles, or are otherwise raised up on a pedestal to communicate on behalf of the organization.

But for that CEO to have reached success, he or she could only have done it with the contributions of dozens — if not hundreds — of really smart people under them at the organization.

Hiding behind the scenes and letting the CEO get all the glitz and glory is a mistake for you, both professionally and personally, especially if the company supports its employees and welcomes the idea of them contributing to the voice of the company.

What sorts of things can you become a thought leader in and how?

1. Contribute to your company’s blog

Now that blogging is the norm for organizations, more and more companies are recommending their blog as a way to enable entire groups of people to promote their ideas organically via platforms easily digestible by the company’s followers.

Consider writing a blog post for your organization that allows everyone both inside and outside of your company to learn more about your great ideas.

Perhaps represent how you do something differently or uniquely within your line of work at the organization. Or, write about a change in the industry you’re working on within the organization. You don’t have to give away trade secrets in a blog post. Instead, share as much as you and the organization are comfortable sharing on a topic, even if that means covering past work that everyone has some awareness of today.

2. Do a webinar or podcast

Webinars and podcasts are great mediums for communicating more complex ideas or educational materials. During webinars and podcasts, people will have an even better grasp of you and what you bring to the table at your company.

Perhaps there is a topic that the marketing department wants to cover for prospects and clients at the organization that would be a perfect fit for you.

Brainstorm educational topics that would allow you to show off your expertise while still being of great benefit to the audience.

The nice thing about webinars and podcasts is they can be done at the comfort of your desk. They’re often pre-recorded and, therefore, less scary for those less experienced with the medium.

3. Apply to speak at relevant conferences and events

If you are comfortable speaking in front of a live, in-person audience, consider what events or industry conferences might be appropriate for you. Do they have speaker line ups that include some of your peers? Do they have breakout sessions you could lead? Or is there a workshop you might be able teach?

With so many events out there, there is likely something for every thought leader out there. If speaking suits you, snag an opportunity to be on the stage. It doesn’t have to be the biggest event of the year that you apply to. Instead, it might be a local chapter of an association of which your organization is a member or a trade group within your field.

That said, speaking is a thought leadership opportunity that is not right for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable and confident in front of a live, in-person audience. If the mere idea of it makes you break out in a sweat, consider some of the earlier mentioned ideas, instead.

Your thought leadership helps your company and you, too.

It’s risky for organizational thought leaders to only exist at the tippy top of the org chart. Thought leadership absolutely has to be owned more than one person — ideally many more. And as more and more companies understand diversified thought leadership as a business and marketing strategy, it becomes easier for team members like you to step up and contribute.

Not only will adding your voice to your organization’s thought leadership boost your status as being the go-to person on a topic at your organization, it’ll also boost your resume, allow you to share your own content to your LinkedIn network, and begin building your own professional brand.

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