Everyone has the potential to become a thought leader. With the right processes, you can transform your individual experiences and expertise in your industry into influence with your audience. Combining the insights and ideas you’ve gathered over the years in your space with your unique voice, you can discuss important topics, become a valuable resource for others, and lead the conversations happening in your industry.
Unfortunately, all of those amazing insights and experiences themselves don’t necessarily make you a thought leader. Simply having an idea, no matter how groundbreaking it is, and effectively communicating it with your desired audience are very different stories. Your thought leadership — and the incredible brand-building benefits it offers — depends on your ability to communicate those ideas to the audiences who matter most to you.
And we don’t need to tell you that communication isn’t exactly easy. You may have the potential to become a thought leader, but that doesn’t automatically equip you with all the skills you need to communicate effectively or the time you need to actually execute that thought leadership.
In fact, while we communicate and interact with people every day, many of us are not natural-born storytellers, and even fewer are professionally trained writers. Content is one of the most cost-effective and easily scalable ways to turn your ideas and expertise into thought leadership, but creating it takes training and plenty of time. And when you’re an entrepreneur or a corporate leader running and growing a company, time is scarce.
So let’s recap: You have expertise and enough unique ideas and experiences to fuel your thought leadership, but you don’t exactly have the editorial background or time in your schedule to develop and execute effective, engaging thought leadership content consistently coming from you, the expert.
What’s a would-be thought leader to do? You might think that you can:
Truthfully, none of these options will consistently deliver the kind of thought leadership content coming from you that achieves your business goals in the long run. Why?
The technical aspects of content creation are important. Misspelled words, misplaced punctuation, and an overall lack of flow may not sink your entire message, but they clutter your ideas. This displays a level of unprofessionalism that polished content doesn’t, and it can reflect poorly on your executive brand.
Trading your voice and subject matter expertise for content quality isn’t the answer, either. Your content may be clean and error-free, but if it always sounds generic and lacks your personal tone and stories, how can your audience connect with you on an authentic, human level?
And borrowing from both camps lends itself pretty easily to inconsistency in content quality and tone, and it can leave what content you do produce feeling disconnected from any strategy.
That’s why Influence & Co. developed the knowledge sharing process.
Knowledge sharing is the process we use to draw out the personal experiences, stories, and ideas that make each thought leader, well, a thought leader.
Those powerful stories of successes and past failures, of leadership and innovation, combined with all those ideas and insights obtained only through years of industry experience, are exactly what this process is designed to extract.
The knowledge sharing process begins with a strategic Q&A system and ends with enough expertise and information to fill a knowledge bank and shape future articles that align with your content strategy and accomplish your business goals.
And the process is customizable. Whether you’re a verbal storyteller who does best explaining ideas out loud as you go or you’re someone who likes to take more time and write out thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness manner, the process can work for you. Regardless of format, the general idea is still the same: Use a series of strategic questions to pull specific information, ideas, stories, and examples from a thought leader with plenty to share.
At Influence & Co., each thought leader works with a client service and editorial team, called a pod, to share knowledge and craft it into effective content. With each Q&A set our pods deliver and you work with, more expertise is collected. Using our custom content marketing software, that information is stored and organized in what we call a knowledge bank.
Those answer sets, which contain your original insights and honest, personal experiences, inspire some of the best content out there — and they differentiate you in the eyes of your audience. No one has the exact same knowledge and experiences that you do; sharing what you know sets you apart from others in your space and establishes your industry leadership.
And that’s why we collect them.
Rather than ask questions over and over again during the course of working with a thought leader, those questions and answers can be saved in a knowledge bank, tagged, supplemented with additional outside research, and ready to use for content in the future.
And these customized knowledge banks house more than just previous answer sets; they include information about your company, your brand, your social media profiles, your target audience, your customers, their pain points, your preferred writing style, and more.
Using a knowledge sharing process, thought leaders are able to focus on the most exciting part of thought leadership: discussing what they’re passionate about. It also streamlines the entire thought leadership content creation process, from editorial through review to publication, and saves thought leaders and content teams time.
To discover how we use your knowledge to create exceptional content, check out our "Content Creation" page, or check out our "Content Marketing Distribution" page to learn more about how we distribute content to our network of more than 1,200 publication relationships — and help leverage that content after it's been published. To chat more about how we can help your company easily create content using your internal subject matter experts, contact us today.