What do you think of when you hear the term thought leadership? It’s a phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days and the misconceptions around it are holding some career professionals back from realizing its benefits. I’m here to clear things up and share how you can become a thought leader to grow your career coaching business and realize greater success.
Many people believe that to become a thought leader you have to be No. 1 in your field, famous or a formally titled leader. In reality, a thought leader is someone who builds and demonstrates expertise in a specific field or role, is passionate about it and willingly shares their knowledge with others.
That last bit is especially important because thought leadership is first and foremost about serving your audience, not yourself. Further, to be considered a thought leader, your command of a subject must be recognized by others, which means you must be able to articulate what you know in an engaging, helpful way.
According to the 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study, it’s estimated that there are over 71,000 coach practitioners globally, an increase of 33% from 2015. Competition continues to ramp up and career coaching businesses must strive for ways to differentiate themselves to increase their market share.
Career professionals who develop themselves as thought leaders build stronger rapport and trust with their audience, attract new clients, inspire collaborations and boost their industry presence and personal brand. Providing your audience with thought leadership can also help you retain business, which saves you money in the long run.
Sounds pretty good, right? So how do you become a career thought leader?
First consider your motivations and purpose for becoming a thought leader. Is it to attract new business? Become recognized as an authority as a career professional? Perhaps you’re looking to find other coaches to collaborate with. Whatever it is, keep that focus front and centre.
Once you’ve identified your purpose for thought leadership, choose just one or two areas of expertise. If resume writing is your bread and butter, you might consider creating thought leadership content around that. Or if you’re already known as an interview prep guru, you could develop a niche appealing to jobseekers in the interview process. Make sure it’s a subject or specialty you love!
“In reality, a thought leader is someone who builds and demonstrates expertise in a specific field or role, is passionate about it and willingly shares their knowledge with others.”
Keep up with industry trends and use your network. The career coaching space is growing and evolving at a rapid pace. As a thought leader, you must stay on top of best practices so you can share that information with your potential clients. Your followers are looking to you for expert advice.
Don’t forget to leverage your network and collaborations as a way to build thought leadership in your niche. If podcasting is your thing, invite other career professionals as guests on your show. Establish a mutually beneficial relationship with another career coach to post and share each other’s content, saving time and energy. You could also partner up with another career expert to host LinkedIn Live or Clubhouse events.
Share valuable content and advice. One way to do this is by starting a blog or serving as a guest blogger for online publications. The key is to showcase your unique voice, brand and authority on a subject without blatantly self-promoting.
If your niche is helping people build out their job search strategy, then you could create short videos that share tips on how to launch and expedite a job search. Provide your opinions and thoughts on the topic to share a fresh perspective or ideas.
Promote your thought leadership content. For others to recognize you as a thought leader, you must ensure they can easily access your content. Post and share your content via social media, LinkedIn or Quora and add relevant hashtags to expand your reach. Posting consistently will build trust, grow your audience and drive traffic to your website.
Don’t forget to be visible and engage with your core audience. Build a following on social media by regularly interacting with your potential clients. Reply to their comments, answer their questions, find out what information they’re lacking and supply them with actionable advice they can use.
While it takes time and effort to develop yourself as a career thought leader, the payoff is worth it. Once you begin applying the above tips, you’ll notice an uptick in social media engagement, increased interest in your services and recognition as a career authority in your area of expertise.