In an article I recently read, entitled What is Thought Leadership?, Michael Brenner shares this quote, a definition by author and strategist, Daniel Rasmus: "Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships."
I like this. I like it because it describes thought leadership as fundamentally about relationship, giving value, and providing inspiration. To me these are essential attributes to living a good life and running a good business. They are a great reason to pursue the art of thought leadership. Early on when I would hear the expression "thought leader" I associated it with those "larger than life folks" out there, those who have something to say that everyone wants to hear. But then I thought, how did they become larger than life in the first place? How did they get to a point where they have something that everyone wants to hear?
Everyone starts somewhere. And to me, thought leadership starts right here, right now with you—or me. Who are you? What do you care about? What you want to share with others that you feel will add value to their lives? And further, what would you like to engage about that you want to learn more about? I believe if you start with these kinds of questions, starting with your own genuine interest in your profession or life philosophy, this is a great platform for developing the art of thought leadership. Everyone has something to say, and we all have more to learn. We don't have to be experts anymore, and that's the really great news of our times. We can all start right here, right now. And because thought leadership is often associated with a solid content strategy, blogging is a great way to begin.
That said, I'm not going to say it's always easy. We may have vision and passion, but when we sit to clarify our thoughts we might find that we need to struggle. That's ok. Struggle is often the soul of what it takes to get to the heart of what we truly mean and want to say. We may even feel discouraged when we see other posts out there where our big idea is already said, and we find that our big idea isn't our own after all. That's also ok. The social media world is a vast continuum of conversation. We're always learning, responding, contributing. So even if the "big idea" was already said by someone else, they probably are just responding to this great continuum anyway. None of it belongs to anyone. It's all of ours. So when you add your own view or philosophy and say it in your own voice, you WILL add value. By exposing your deeper thinking and knowledge, even if it's not already all worked out, you begin the process of developing your own thought leadership, building social networks, and engaging with real people—people who may even become your partners or even your customers.
If you are new to blogging and seeking a rich source of great tips and guides, check out my new friends at First Site Guide. (Your only regret might be that you'll spend a tad more time than you were planning.) Enjoy!