What Is A Thought Leader On LinkedIn?

I am absolutely convinced that Thought Leaders are made on LinkedIn, and I’m on a mission to help people with knowledge establish themselves as authentic Thought Leaders in their area of expertise on LinkedIn.

What is a Thought Leader?

A thought leader is typically recognised as an individual (or organisation) that is acknowledged as an authority in a specialised field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.

So it’s about all about being acknowledged as an authority in your chosen field, sector, skillset, or profession?

YES!… Eventually

But all Thought Leaders start their journey by setting out to be seen as Thought Leader first. The acknowledgement comes from other LinkedIn users later.

Is LinkedIn the best place to establish yourself as a Thought Leader?

YES! In fact there is no better B2B platform. But you already know that.

Thought leadership is characterized by a few key attributes:

Below are the key attributes of Thought Leadership, with my commentary on why LinkedIn perfectly aligns with each attribute.

Expertise and Knowledge:

Thought leaders possess a deep understanding of their subject matter, often gained through extensive experience, research, and study. They are well-informed and knowledgeable about current trends, future directions, and historical context within their field.

LinkedIn allows individuals to showcase their professional background, achievements, and knowledge through their profiles, posts, and articles. You can highlight your expertise in specific sectors, professions, or skills.

Innovation and Originality:

Thought Leaders contribute new ideas, perspectives, and insights that challenge conventional thinking. Thought Leaders are often at the forefront of innovation, offering unique solutions to existing problems or identifying emerging trends before they become mainstream.

The platform is ideal for sharing original content, such as articles, posts, and videos. You can present new ideas, insights, and innovative solutions, engaging your network and beyond.

Influence and Reach:

A Though Leader has the ability to influence others, shape opinions, and drive discussions. Their opinions are highly valued, and they often have a significant following within their industry or field.

LinkedIn’s network-centric approach enables you to build and grow you professional network, extending your influence. Engaging content can reach not just direct connections but also a broader audience through shares and recommendations.

Communication and Engagement:

Thought Leaders are skilled communicators who can effectively share their knowledge and ideas. This can be through writing, speaking, teaching, or utilizing digital platforms like social media, blogs, and podcasts.

With various tools for content creation and interaction, LinkedIn facilitates effective communication. You can engage their audience through posts, comments, newsletters, audio, video, images, and direct messaging, fostering discussions and building relationships.

Communication is a skill that can learned, and content creation including images and videos can be outsourced if you require assistance.

Trust and Credibility:

Thought Leaders earn trust and respect from their peers and audiences. Their advice and opinions are considered credible and reliable due to their proven expertise and track record.

By consistently sharing valuable content and insights, professionals can build trust and credibility with your LinkedIn network. Recommendations, endorsements, and the professional nature of the platform further reinforce this.

Visibility and Presence:

Thought Leaders maintain a visible presence within their field, often engaging with other professionals at conferences, seminars, and online platforms, and contributing to professional journals, books, or media.

Regular activity and content sharing on LinkedIn increase visibility within your field. Participating in LinkedIn groups and events also enhances your professional presence.

Inspiration and Mentorship:

Thought Leaders not only share knowledge but also inspire and mentor others. They help to cultivate the next generation of professionals and often play a role in shaping the future of their field.

LinkedIn provides a platform for thought leaders to mentor others through insightful content, advice in comments or direct messages, and by sharing experiences and lessons learned.

Impact and Change:

The ultimate goal of a Thought Leader is to create impact. Whether it’s driving innovation, influencing policy, changing business practices, or inspiring cultural shifts, thought leaders play a pivotal role in effecting change.

Through the sharing of thought-provoking content and the initiation of meaningful conversations, Thought Leaders on LinkedIn can drive change and impact within their fields.

In summary, thought leadership is about combining deep expertise with a forward-thinking approach, influential communication, and a commitment to driving meaningful change and innovation in a specific domain.

Good News

The great news is that you don’t have to do or be all of these things at the beginning, or at once. Think of your journey as layers. You concentrate on building one layer well, with your eye on the next layer. This is a marathon not a sprint. The attributes above are something to aim for, not a prerequisite!

The main attribute required is the first one, but really only half of it… KNOWLEDGE. That’s all that’s required to make a good start. The other attributes come in to play later in your journey and they can all be learned and practiced.

The Unavoidable Truths

First: Not everyone can be a Thought Leader on LinkedIn. There have to be people that follow the Thought Leaders. But you are here, so you’ve already set out your intention. Nice! Welcome.

Second: There is no avoiding the fact that it will take a lot of effort, commitment, consistency, and a little investment in yourself to become a Thought Leader on LinkedIn.

At times it is going to feel like having a part-time job! But there will be plenty of wins along the way to keep you encouraged. The trick is, from personal experience, not to give up just before the next win arrives. Doh!

Where to begin?

Well, you are here. So you have already started. Congrats!

Next we have to dig a little deeper. Ready to explore the next step?

Fox Tucker is Digital Marketing Manager for an International Media Publishing Company, and LinkedIn marketing specialist that loves to help people thrive on LinkedIn.