What’s the path to becoming a retail industry thought leader?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the blog of Dave Wendland, VP, strategic relations at Hamacher Resource Group and Forbes Council Member. The article first appeared on Forbes.com.
My journey to gaining recognition as a thought leader did not begin by accident, nor did it occur overnight. Thoughtfully crafting articles, speaking at industry conferences and sharing my opinion across various social media channels allowed me to reach a wide audience, which helped me become more known throughout the industry, and my reputation naturally began to build.
Not terribly long thereafter, various publications and associations were reaching out to our organization or to me personally for editorial input or opinions.
Becoming a thought leader is not a self-proclaimed title. An audience must “award” you that honor. Audience engagement can be the most effective indication of how useful your insights are and how others are responding to your thoughts and viewpoint.
Throughout my journey, I’ve recognized that great thought leaders surround themselves with other thought leaders. I’m humble enough to realize other viewpoints matter and other subject matter experts know far more than me.
A delicate balance must also be maintained to ensure that the reputation that is being fostered is not self-serving but focused on interesting ideas or concepts. I have seen countless instances where thought leaders create a personal brand without relevance to their company — this is a pathway to unwanted confusion, internally and externally.
Here are five suggestions to successfully utilize public relations efforts to establish a market position as a thought leader:
- Be authentic: It is impossible to fake expertise and convince others of its relevance without well-founded experience.
- Be provocative: True thought leaders drive conversations instead of being mere contributors to them.
- Be consistent. Make sure each piece you create remains true to your company values and aligns with the overall perception people have of your brand.
- Be collaborative: Remaining open to sharing content from other individuals in your industry enhances your reach, invites new readers and brings forward other points of view and experience.
- Be strategic: The views that you share should engage at a strategic level to help followers solve problems or broaden their perspectives.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have for someone seeking to establish themselves as a thought leader within the retail industry? What suggestions would you emphasize from or add to the article?