Being able to build your personal image has always been an extremely important skill.
From the legendary tribal warriors to members of the Roman senate, to world explorers and conquerors, reputation has been crucial for success in whatever endeavors were taken on.
It usually takes years to build a good name, but there are ways to speed up the process.
Social media is the main platform for many entrepreneurs to establish themselves as experts.
In doing so, many of them are building massive followings and scaling their companies.
One of them is Brian D. Evans, an Inc. 500 entrepreneur and the founder of the inspirational entrepreneur and lifestyle blog Influencive.com. By implementing a well-planned social strategy, he has taken his brand to new levels and established himself as a thought leader in the entrepreneur community.
But what exactly is a thought leader, and how do you become one? Wikipedia's definition is, "an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded."
Evans has mastered the formula, and here he shares eight tactics that will help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your community:
1. "Associate Yourself With Known Brands and Websites"
Says Evans. In his case, he is a writer for Inc. Magazine, which helps him be seen as an authority. "Find a quality publication in your niche, and find out how to get an article published in it", he continues. I've personally found that many writers and reporters are open to ideas for articles, as long as they are relevant for their readers. Citing credible media sources looks very good when pitching prospective clients.
2. Advise Companies in Your Industry
"You might not get paid for it initially," says Evans. "But instead of asking for money, you can ask for a mutual promotion. The benefit is to associate yourself with something that's more recognizable than your name," he adds.
3. Use the Shotgun Approach
"When it comes to personal branding, you need to be everywhere. Have many clients, write for several sites, and focus on several things instead of just one, as it won't push your brand as hard," is Evans advice.
Related Article: Time to Shine: Brand Yourself as a Thought Leader in Your Industry
4. Having a Personal Touch on Social Media Is Important
Even more important is reaching the masses with automation tools. "Unless you have a full team or massive resources, you can only click on so many things. With software, you can reach thousands, and you are not limited." The personal touch should be in the content that is posted and shared. Find your voice and your style, create a world that people want to be a part of, and invite them in.
5. Reach Out to Other Influencers
Interview them, get them attached to what you're doing, be it building a site, a social media brand, a specific blog post etc. "Some people start a podcast and interview others in their industry. It makes you more credible, as you are talking to someone established," says Evans. If you keep it professional, the people you interview and mention will want to share it with their followers, allowing you to expand your audience.
6. Find Brand Ambassadors
In my personal experience, this is one of the most powerful things you can do to market and brand your product. According to Evans, you should give them extra access or privileges when they associate their names with your brand. This usually works well with mid-level influencers initially, and then you can step it up from there.
7. Don't Come Off as Desperate
"People pigeonhole themselves as fans. You are not approaching influencers with high value, you're just a fan. From a business aspect, a fan has low value, and the big ones usually get thousands of messages like that every day. It's like chasing a celebrity down the street," says Evans.
8. Don't Disregard People Who Don't Agree With You
"Remember that the people who don't agree with you are still your audience, and they can expand your reach. If you ignore them, you might be losing out on an audience," says Evans.
Becoming a leader, and especially a thought leader, is something that takes time and work. Like any task in life, the most important thing is to take massive action. Use the steps above to create a plan, and then go out and do it.