7 Strategies for Leading Your Industry

As a Chief Growth Officer, I’ve found that there are many reasons to market something — whether it be as a business or an individual. Sales, lead generation, and brand awareness are a few that jump to mind.

In a market overcrowded with information, establishing a brand as a thought leader in an industry is another key aspect of marketing. The challenge comes with figuring out how to position yourself as an authority in your space.

Here are a few tried-and-true tips that I’ve discovered along the way to help you do just that.

1. Define Your “Industry” And Clarify Your Expertise

If you want to be a thought leader in your industry, you need to define what that industry is in the first place. This is more complicated than it sounds on the surface.

We live in a world where industries and professions overlap everywhere. Cambridge Dictionary defines industry as “the companies and activities involved in the process of producing goods for sale, especially in a factory or special area.”

The first step in being a thought leader is defining what that “special area” is that you want to be a leader within. Once you’ve done that, revisit your definition regularly and make sure you’re focusing on that area of business.

Along with defining your industry, you need to define you. How are you an expert in your field?

Again, this is more nuanced than it sounds. You know your strengths, but have you ever defined them? Have you ever written them down? Think about the things that help you stand out. Consider the knowledge and experience you have that makes you unique. These are the elements that can help you offer detailed, actionable advice that is different from other thought leaders in your field.

2. Create Content

It sounds cliché at this point, but content really is still king. If you don’t have quality content backing up your messaging, it’s very hard to get those thoughts out there in the first place.

How are you working on content that will help others hear you? You can do this through a company blog. Guest posting on other sites is also wise. Cultivate an email list. Put yourself out there as a guest speaker at industry functions. You get the idea.

As you create content, make sure that you’re using simple language to communicate valuable information. Both points are equally important. This invites others to understand and engage with what you have to say in the hopes of gaining value from the interaction.

3. Answer Questions

Personal thoughts are all well and good, but how are you helping others? Spouting one-off opinions, outlining complex philosophies, and addressing tangential topics won’t help too many people.

If you want recognition as a thought leader in your industry, you need to answer the questions of the people that you want to follow you. Take the time to listen. Look for pain points from others within your industry. Study other thought leaders to see what questions they are answering. Then give your own thoughts in your distinct style.

4. Target Your Communications

Creating quality content is important, but it won’t be effective if you don’t get it in front of the right people. That’s why targeting your communications is essential.

Once you’ve defined your industry, look for the areas where people from that group gather. Do they congregate on Twitter? Do they engage in Facebook groups? Are they active on LinkedIn? Are there industry publications worth pursuing?

Find the best channels to ensure that your communications get in front of the right people.

5. Educate Your Team

It doesn’t matter if you’re cultivating the authority of a brand or of an individual. If you’re doing so on a large scale, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need some help.

Teams focused on branding need to consist of more than faceless employees doing grunt work. Take the time to invest in your team members.

Help them learn the nuances that set you apart from your competitors. Make sure your customer support reps and those handling outward communications are able to represent you in an authoritative and informed manner.

A well-educated support staff is instrumental to creating and maintaining a thought leadership persona.

6. Cross-Collaborate With Others

Just because you want to be a leader in your industry doesn’t mean every other leader is out to get you. Look for others who share your opinions and thoughts within your industry. As you find these leaders, seek out opportunities to cross-collaborate together.

Suggest writing for each other’s blogs. Join forces on a podcast episode. Interact regularly on social media.

Associating yourself with other industry leaders is a powerful way to cultivate an aura of excellence and authority around your brand.

7. Build Your Network

Networking is an important professional tool at all times — including when cultivating thought leadership. Your network can open up the door to many activities that might otherwise be closed to you.

For instance, a network connection could cultivate a chance to cross-collaborate. It also might give you access to brand-building talent that you can recruit to your team. You can even use your network to simply learn from other thought leaders in your field.

Whatever the reason, don’t underestimate the power of your network. As you become more prominent, avoid letting networking slip to the back burner.

Final Thoughts

Positioning yourself as a leader in your industry requires a strategic approach and ongoing commitment. Use the tips above to gain recognition, credibility, and influence, while making a meaningful impact on your audience and industry community. Remember, consistency and dedication are key to maintaining your thought leadership position and continuing to inspire others with your expertise and insights.