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Social 401 – Thought Leadership and Eminence Building

Welcome to Social 401, the fourth post in a five-post series about mastering social to build your personal/professional brand eminence.

Social 401: Thought Leadership and Eminence Building
In Social 301 we learned how to manage your social footprint and had a discussion on how to consider your personal vs professional brand and how this translates to your social profiles. This next post builds on this knowledge by beginning to elevate the conversation to focus on building and sharing your own content to establish your position as a thought-leader or at least increase your eminence in a given space

What exactly is eminence? What is thought leadership? Why should I care?
Let me address the last question first: you should care because eminence and thought leadership is what helps you build out your network, expand your knowledge, open up job opportunities or new business leads and much more. In other words, everything we have talked about in social 101 until now is realized through your ability to establish eminence and maybe even become a thought-leader in a given space. Now, let’s define eminence and thought leadership:

  • Eminence: Merriam-Webster (my fav source for definitions) defines eminence as “a position of prominence or superiority”. Placed into the realm of social we can further define eminence as being recognized for superior knowledge in a certain category
  • Thought Leadership: while no formal definition of thought leadership exists (that I am aware of anyway), Russ Prince and Bruce Rogers do a great job of outlining a definition in this article. Put simply, a thought leader is a person (or company) that is seen as one of the foremost authorities in a selected area of specialization or expertise

From my POV (point of view) one can have eminence in a space or specialized area without being seen as a thought leader and this is OK… /not everyone can be a thought leader, and not everyone should be/.

How do I build social eminence and get recognized for it?
Building social eminence is as simple as moving your masterful offline knowledge into the online realm and sharing it. There are three steps you can take to get started today

  • Identify what you are recognized for
    • You might be saying to yourself right now “I do not have anything I am recognized for!” but I challenge you to think again. What do people always ask you about? Are you the go-to person for advice on a particular topic? Do you always get looked to in order to perform a certain task or piece of work? Everyone has something that they excel in; you just need to identify it
  • Start sharing your knowledge on a personal blog
    • I have said it before and I’ll repeat it again here… you need a blog (or other medium) by which to communicate and share your knowledge and point of view. You do not have to have a fancy blog or even a huge website, you just need a simple place to start writing down your thoughts and ideas and a way to categorize them
  • Distribute links to your content via the social platforms you are involved on (Twitter and even LinkedIn are must-dos!)
    • Once you have the content posted, even if it is just one paragraph, post it and share it. Some of the best posts are short, timely, and relevant

How about thought leadership?
Becoming a thought leader and creating thought leadership is much more difficult than building eminence as you not only need to be a master in a space but a visionary also. That being said, even just attempting to create thought leadership in the form of blog posts can help increase your social eminence and here’s how to do it

  • Find what’s new, build knowledge, and create the application for the knowledge
    • When building eminence it is enough just to have domain expertise and be able to share, help, and mentor others; however, when it comes to thought leadership you must be on the forefront of the curve. You need to not only recognize what is new and changing but you need to research it and know it to its core and then you set the stage and pathway for its application rather than being an expert at explaining and helping others with someone else’s application
  • Espouse the new application to everyone
    • Once you have identified what is new/changing, you have mastered it, and you have created the outline for how people will function with this change you now need to share it far and wide and make it your own. Put simply: you need to own this knowledge and start telling others why your way not only makes sense but is the right way to go and proceed forward
  • Be prepared to defend and adapt
    • During the espousing phase you will likely encounter naysayers or people who will challenge your thought leadership; this is a great thing! If people are challenging your way of thinking it means they have recognize it enough to care to comment and think about it and how they would apply your thought leadership into their own field and area. Consider this: the breakout ideas of our time were not always popular but people stuck to them, defended them, and sometimes even built businesses around them. This does not mean you cannot (and should not) adapt but if you truly believe your way of thinking about the new change is right you should adopt the way of thinking yourself and share it continually with others

Sound a little vague? Place this into the context of healthcare reform… people and firms who have analyzed the healthcare laws and have published content on how to help health systems and other groups adapt are now being recognized as thought leaders in this space. They are not only being looked to for advice and knowledge but they are also making quite a bit of money off being thought-leaders in healthcare reform and helping navigate companies through the changes; you just need to find what that topic is for you!

Ok, I’m ready to write and start establishing eminence but I’m not sure what to say, etc
While I will not address the best ways to create a blog post here I will leave you with some do’s and do not’s:

  • Do
    • Write your opinion and share it freely
    • Weave your own experience into the conversation and discussion
    • Be simple (when possible)
    • Be bold
    • Be conversational and open to the discussion
  • Do Not
    • Attack others or their opinions (though you can write a dissenting opinion!)
    • Feed the trolls; sometimes people want to attack your thoughts no matter what; learn to identify them and move on
    • Steal others’ content – give credit where credit is due
    • Wait to post something until you think it is great; just get started now

That’s it! Get out there and start writing. Then, tune in next week for my last post in this series on putting it all together; I call it the masters class!

Now, let’s continue the conversation! Follow and engage with me on Twitter, leave a comment below, or send me an email via my contact page.

Corey Rawdon

Corey Rawdon

About Corey Rawdon

Prolific stick-figure artist ideating methods and mechanisms to change the world—or at least make a small dent.

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