It’s not just a buzzword. Becoming a thought leader can pay some fairly significant dividends. Not only does it differentiate you from your competition, but it positions you as an expert in your field. This translates into respect and increased compensation. Here’s how to become an accounting and finance thought leader.
Why Firms Value Thought Leaders
According to the article “How Thought Leadership Can Solve Many Problems for Your Firm” there are a number of reasons that firms recruit thought leaders.
- Lack of in-house expertise
- Winning new business
- Solving a critical problem
- Desire to increase client confidence
Firms locate thought leaders primarily online. They also use industry events, recommendations and publications.
What It Takes
Whether you’re in a small town, or a large city, as long as you have something of value to offer your target market you can be a thought leader. The key is to understand your market’s pain points and speak to them. And remember, the web is a great equalizer in getting your message out there.
Areas to consider writing about:
- Industry trends
- Upcoming events
- Common questions or misunderstandings
- Innovation – particularly if you’re at the helm of it
It goes without saying, of course, that your writing style will need to be proficient enough to capture your audience. Not Hemingway calibre mind you, but at least accessible and readable.
What is Your Voice?
Branding is about staying on message and using the right voice consistently. Decide if your voice is formal, colloquial, inspirational, etc. and stay with it. Your audience will come to expect a certain “voice” so make sure to deliver.
There are a number of ways to become an online thought leader:
A) LinkedIn: While you may not have the following of Richard Branson, LinkedIn is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader.
- Make sure that your profile is consistent with your messaging and brand
- Start a group, or actively participate in one
- Generate discussions that hit on areas of common concern
- Always be professional and informative
- If you’re writing a blog, reference it, or better yet publish it in your feed as an update/post or in a group that you’ve joined.
- To learn more about maximizing LinkedIn groups read this blog.
B) Website: Consider creating a website. Include podcasts, industry updates and a blog. Encourage other accountants to contribute to your blog by writing guest posts. It builds their professional brand and helps market your site (it’s likely guest posts will be shared on social media by the person who wrote them).
C) Blog: A blog is a great way to become an on-line thought leader. The key to success, however, lies in knowing how to promote your blog. Understanding a little bit about search engine optimization, therefore, can be a huge advantage. Aim to blog once a week. Always share your blog posts on social media.
D) Other Social Media: While LinkedIn is a wonderful platform for promoting your content, so too is Twitter and Facebook. And remember, Google owns Google + and that content gets indexed quickly, so sharing your blog posts or updates on Google + can be a great way to get them into the search results. As well, for a minimal investment, you can boost your posts on Facebook, creating specific targeting parameters to ensure that your message gets to the right people.
- Once you’ve established a baseline reputation, reach out to other thought leaders in your industry – perhaps you can publish a guest post on their blog (if they have one), or they can publish one on yours
- Connect with your mentors
- Network, network, network – not only on-line, but in person as well – consider attending industry events
- Seek out speaking opportunities
- Identify opportunities for getting published in an industry magazine, or other on-line venue
- If you start to drive real change in your business, or see an innovative way of doing things, talk about it
- Becoming a thought leader won’t happen quickly so remember to be consistent and put in the hard work
Becoming a thought leader can be a great career booster. Consider developing an on-line presence through participation in social media and the creation of a blog. Be consistent in your branding and voice. Network with other thought leaders. Once you experience a certain amount of success, start to identify additional ways to promote yourself. Remember, however, that whatever you produce must offer true value to your market.
Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.
Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.