Solo/Small Firm April 2023

Rise Above the Noise

Become a thought leader

Written by Robert Tharp

These days, it seems like practically everyone is a self-proclaimed expert in their field. What does this mean for you and your brand? For starters, it makes it quite hard for those who have actual topic expertise to rise above the noise.

To distinguish yourself and set yourself apart from the throngs of self-anointed gurus, it is going to take more than just a few “likes” on your LinkedIn page.

Thought leadership is about leading the conversation—challenging others to think about trends, regulations, and topics affecting their line of work. Most importantly, it requires providing timely, meaningful insight in a compelling way.

Be Visible
Audiences gravitate toward people, products, and businesses they know, like, and trust. With effort and persistence, it’s possible to build that credibility through public relations efforts, the content you share on social media, and speaking or networking at industry events. Are you particularly knowledgeable about a new piece of legislation that will affect a certain industry segment? Write about it. Publish it. Talk about it in a media interview.

The more others see your name and work, the more credible you will become in their eyes.

Understand Who You’re Speaking To
Let’s be honest, the vast majority of content creation is uninspired and leans toward self-promotion.

Don’t limit yourself to just writing about your own successes. If that’s your universe of potential content, then you’ll only be posting a few times a year. In order to produce content that resonates with audiences, you must first consider who exactly your audience is and what they care about. Armed with that intelligence, you can grow your audience.

The unvarnished truth is you are not the only person in your industry who is knowledgeable. True thought leaders need to be able to provide new insight into differing aspects of their own expertise, all of which can be pushed out through blog articles, whitepapers, short e-books, guides, and webinars that you can offer at no charge. The more freely you share helpful information, the more credible and valuable you become to your target market. Be the person who flips on the lightbulb for someone.

The Great Equalizer
The internet and social media allow voices to circumvent traditional gatekeepers. Google’s most recent changes to its algorithm are designed to value and reward what it calls “useful information.” It’s no longer necessary to load up text with nonsensical search-optimized keywords to get the attention of the Google search engine; in fact, those kinds of tactics may get you penalized. Instead, these changes are encouraging writers to create content in plain English that readers will find useful.

Consider burgeoning economist Nathan Tankus’ unlikely career trajectory. He didn’t even have an undergraduate degree when he started weighing in with real-time analysis of the Federal Reserve’s emergency actions in response to the economic crisis created by COVID-19. While Ph.D. economists were on the sidelines or writing for peer-reviewed academic publications, Tankus emerged as an active voice alongside policymakers and other big thinkers in the conversation in real time. His Twitter feed and Substack newsletter now have thousands of followers.

“I’m writing a lot when other people aren’t necessarily putting things out there,” Tankus told Bloomberg. “You can be a great academic, but if you’re not writing all the time you’re not necessarily in people’s minds as someone they would want to ask a question to. I write so much that there’s always something for people to pick up.”

Anyone can call themselves an expert and talk information at you, but it takes work and dedication to be a true thought leader. TBJ

This article, which was originally published on the Androvett blog, has been edited and reprinted with permission.

Headshot of Robert TharpRobert Tharp is director of public relations at Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.

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