Thought Leadership Resources

book5Thought Leadership Resources

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Once upon a time in America, if an event didn’t get covered on the six o’clock news of CBS, NBC or ABC, it was like it didn’t happen. There were “major news media,” and there were those that didn’t matter.

In a business context too, there were major media like Fortune and the Wall Street Journal, as well as specialty publications like Engineering News Record – titans that stood like gatekeepers, between “sources” with expertise to offer, and the readers of those publications.

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Some of the technical professionals I’ve worked with don’t think much of marketing. “My work speaks for itself,” they say. “Do good work, build your reputation, and clients will find you.” A number of the people who’ve told me this take an understandable pride in having built a practice and a reputation that brings in repeat work and referrals.

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Maybe you’ve devoted a lot of time into creating Really Useful Content – blog posts, articles, speeches, maybe a video or two – and it’s just not working. It’s not getting you business. So, what to do?

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Why do you create thought leadership content – blog posts, articles, videos, speeches and the like? It could be to get the attention of potential clients. Or it could be because you have insights to share, and you like helping.

But it could be that the biggest beneficiary of your thought leadership program is you. Here’s how that can work.

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Are you looking for a way to provide reassurance to your prospects and clients that you’re into it for the long haul – a reliable resource, who they can count on for meeting their needs for years to come? And, that you’re dedicated to understanding the issues that they’re facing, so your work fits their reality?

One way to do this is through what I call “anniversary newsjacking” content.

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For many people, having a career that is fun, pays well and does some good for the world is too much to expect. They’d settle for just one of those three benefits. But, all the three are available to business professionals who plan carefully and then execute well.

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Have you ever felt stuck in your professional growth? You’re doing small jobs for clients, and you’re glad to have them, but you know you can do so much more? And your clients think of you as someone who does small jobs reliably, and that’s it?

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You can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t. Just about any organization needs to bring in help from freelancers at some point, and that’s particularly the case if you’re with a small organization, or a Corporation of One.

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Just about anyone in business can come up with a repertoire of classic mistakes their clients make. I expect that in my interactions with other professionals – web designers, dentists, financial planners and the like – I make similar newbie errors.

But here are four of the classic mistakes I’ve come across in demonstrating thought leadership.

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Case studies are a good thing, right? They prove that you can implement and get results, and they show you to be the hardworking and diligent professional that you are. A lot has been written on why you should publish case studies (including this blog).

But then I started thinking (good thing, that…). There are some serious downsides to these things. Maybe, more downsides than upsides. At least, unless you think through how to mitigate those downsides.

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Sometimes, getting known for your expertise feels like shouting into a windstorm. Nobody hears you – your ideas just get drowned out in all the noise. It’s frustrating – you have good ideas to offer, and you want to get recognized for what you know.

But having your thoughts get a fair hearing seems to be only accessible to “experts” who are already well known in the marketplace of ideas.

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Your thought leadership content efforts – your blog posts, articles, speeches and others – should have one main purpose: to put you in position to sell. That’s what it’s all about. I think that there are four main ways to do this, and these four ways form an upside-down pyramid.

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