7 steps to becoming a thought leader

Learn how to help your career, your organization and the IT community by sharing your expert knowledge with others.

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You're the sort of person who likes to solve problems. Co-workers and colleagues come to you for advice, ideas, insights and solutions. You also enjoy being a mentor, someone who doesn't mind investing his or her time in order to help people achieve their goals.

Congratulations. Whether you realize it or not, you're a thought leader, an authority whose IT expertise is frequently sought and, sometimes, rewarded. Now that you're aware of your distinct status, perhaps it's time you put your talents to work in a way that will promote your organization — and yourself.

Positioning oneself as a thought leader opens the door to multiple benefits, says Patrick Turner, CTO of Small Footprint, a custom software development company. "While it can certainly help you find that next step up the career ladder, it can also help you build a great team in the recruiting process," explains Turner, who has positioned himself as his firm's top thought leader. "People today look to companies where they can learn and grow professionally, and seeing thought leadership in a company can be a big draw for good people."

A thought leader can also help an organization differentiate itself from the competition, alter customer expectations, change purchasing incentives and engage individuals at a higher level. "[You can] set the agenda, start conversations, lead a movement and shape the future of your field," notes Pete Weissman, founder of Thought Leader Communications, a firm that helps executives and organizations become recognized as industry thought leaders.

Becoming a thought leader requires "a unique vision for the future of your field, actions that make your vision possible and a rollout plan to share your message with increasingly larger audiences," Weissman says.

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