5 Strategies Thought Leaders Use to Get Followers

thought leaders

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As a small business owner, you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field. You want people to consider you the go-to expert on your industry, the products you sell and trends. But to achieve that, you’ve got to put in a little work. True thought leaders use the following techniques to build loyal fans, traffic to their sites, and revenues.

Secret Strategies Thought Leaders Use

1. Have a Voice on Multiple Platforms

Guy Kawasaki is a great example here. He spends a great deal of time on Google +, but he’s also active on other social sites. He speaks publicly, gives webinars and shares his insight on American Express’ Open Forum. He’s everywhere, because his audience is everywhere. By not only focusing on one channel, he reaches a wider audience.

That being said, don’t overextend your reach. Only take on what you have time to handle. If you set up 10 social media profiles but only have time to update three, the other seven will fall short. Figure out where you most enjoy spending time, online and off, and make those your priorities.

2. Share Great Content

This doesn’t always mean it’s your own content. David Meerman Scott shares a great mix of content from his own blog, as well as other content he thinks is relevant to his followers. If you share too much of your own content, you’ll turn people off.

Spend time each day curating what’s out there in the world of web. Share it. Comment on it and add your own insight.

3. Be a Resource

People who are truly passionate about what they do find it easy to answer questions and give advice. If you meet me at a networking event, chances are, I’ll give you a few marketing tips. I can’t help it. This is a great way to be considered a thought leader.

Focus on delivering value, online and off, not making a sale. Have a genuine interest in helping others. Soon, they’ll send other people to you and word will get around that you’re simply a nice person who knows your stuff. That builds trust and trust is one of the key components to getting people to buy from you, especially in business services, when the product can’t always speak for itself the way a box of detergent can.

4. Keep Learning

The thing about being an expert is – you never reach the pinnacle of knowing it all. There’s always more to learn and other ways to grow. Be humble and open to learning. Read blogs and websites, books and magazines. Attend seminars and workshops. Hone your craft. After all, technology constantly changes the game for most of us, so there’s always fresh information that can help keep you the smartest person in the room, if you’re willing to learn it.

The learning doesn’t have to be specifically related to what you do. Check out Coursera or other online learning and learn something completely left field. You might find it enhances your business skills in surprising ways.

5. Make Connections

Great thought leaders want to help people. If you meet a graphic designer and you happen to know someone who needs one, make the connection. It might not serve you directly, but people appreciate the effort and you never know where it’ll come back to you down the road.

Being a thought leader involves positioning yourself as an expert and genuinely wanting to help people. By taking these actions, you’ll build a loyal following you can convert into customers.

Leader Photo via Shutterstock


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

13 Reactions
  1. Shawn Hessinger

    Hi Susan,
    All great points. It might be added that it is helpful to have a distinctive voice. Let your personality show through. Project what you think, not just what you think your audience wants to hear. It’s both easier and harder than it sounds, but so important if you want to lead instead of simply amplifying the thoughts of others.

    • Todd @ Leadership Seed

      Great add Shawn!

      Leadership Seed

    • great comment Shawn..the tone of the voice is often the least commented upon item in “outreach”, yet as you note…it is crucial for your business to be distinct from others. It’s that emotional pull that will connect with the customers who are similar to you.

  2. Becoming a thought leader definitely takes time, but it can really pay off for a long time!

  3. After Penguin and Panda, only one remains to be on top. They build more than authority sites. They lead people’s thoughts. I think this is the only way to get a loyal following online. Come up with a unique idea and try to get a really small but extremely loyal group of followers. Be consistent and you’re good to go.

  4. Hi Susan! I have read your article posted in the bizsugar community and I might as well leave a comment.
    Out all the articles that I have read, this one is so far the best strategies and techniques to build loyal fans, traffic to their sites, and revenues. Good Job!

  5. It’s a very educating speech. I will put it into practice..

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