While the term “thought leader” is quite a cliché, yet the status is still coveted in the business landscape. According to Tamara Rasberry, SHRM-CP, principal HR consultant at Rasberry Consulting LLC- “A thought leader is someone who professionals look to for advice or insight.” Precisely, someone is considered a thought leader in his own right and contributions to the field. If you are an HR professional who’s aspiring to be a HR thought leader in his space, this article is certainly for you.
Carving your niche in today’s competitive landscape is essential for professional success. Avoid the trap of branding yourself as a generalist, as it can dilute your value proposition and confuse potential clients or employers. Katrina Kibben, the esteemed CEO of Three Ears Media in Boulder, Colo., stresses the importance of clear positioning: “People have to know what to go to you for.” To stand out and thrive, focus on honing your expertise in a specific sector or subject matter area.
Joey Price, the CEO of Jumpstart:HR LLC based in Baltimore and host of the renowned podcast “Business, Life, and Coffee,” urges aspiring professionals to find their passion within the vast realm of HR. But, we would recommend you discover a particular area that ignites your enthusiasm. No matter if it’s the broader area of HR as a whole or a specific subject matter like onboarding or talent acquisition, your specialized insight in the said field will make you a go-to expert in that field, attracting more opportunities and recognition.
In-depth research and developing your exclusive thoughts around the subject line helps you become a thought leader in that specific niche. You will be able to develop a distinct identity in the industry in this manner. And, over time, you can experience that people are more likely to seek your advice and check your insights when they research something. By demonstrating dedication and mastery and a focused approach, you gain the trust and credibility of your target audience.
Furthermore, as a specialized HR thought leader, you can keep up with the newest trends, best practices, and innovations in your field. The more you study, the more you will be able to develop relevant insights. This is what separates you from generalists who lack this level of expertise.
Despite the temptation to cater to a wider audience, specialists flourish by catering only to a specific interest group. That helps you get the best results in the long run. The best is to go with your exclusive skill sets, ideas, interests and experiences to uncover your niche within the HR premises. Channel your passion and commitment to solving specific problems, and over time you will become a popular name across the industry, thus opening many avenues to new and exciting opportunities. In the end, finding and carving your niche will be the key to unlocking your true potential and achieving professional fulfillment.
According to Price, a thought leader needs to create and share content to boost his visibility and build engagement around himself. It could start with a simple blog or may be sending out newsletters, publishing podcasts or utilizing LinkedIn’s self-publishing tool to comment on industry trends and express your thoughts. The idea is to build your presence in social media itself through which you can build more connections and reach out to more people in your space as well as beyond. When you share articles on LinkedIn, they appear in the feeds of your connections and followers. If they, in turn, share your content, your reach can grow significantly. Additionally, people outside your network can choose to follow you, further increasing your exposure.
However, to extend your visibility (because that is the only way to present yourself as a thought leader) you need to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is set to “everyone.”
Recent studies reveal that when people regularly read your content, they become part of your community. They become your followers, they become your members. Price has been able to exhibit their expertise and the value they provide to the market as a result of publishing information on social media. The ability to expand your influence in this way also opens up opportunities to connect with recruiters.
Gathering a social media fan base is one of the primary responsibilities of a thought leader. Whether you are an emerging thought leader in HR premises or something else, it’s important to build and stay connected with your community. At this point of time, we simply cannot deny that the world of social media is ever-evolving and a substantial amount of fan following in social media is undoubtedly the crucial first step towards gaining visibility and recognition. However, merely accumulating numbers won’t transform you into a thought leader; you must actively engage your audience in meaningful conversations. The key to achieving this lies in posing thought-provoking questions that spark dialogue and encourage interaction.
One of the most important steps to becoming a HR thought leader is to seek out other influencers and thought leaders within your sphere. By responding to their posts and engaging with them on social networks, you open up a great opportunity to learn and grow from their insights. Building a connection with them can be immensely beneficial to your own journey. By sharing their content or tweets, you can get noticed by them, but don’t forget to add value to the conversation. Replying or sharing won’t suffice; instead, add your comments or opinions to enrich the conversation.
Including hashtags in your posts is a great strategy to increase visibility and reach a larger audience. It ensures that people interested in comparable topics for debate will see your material. However, avoid focusing too much on self-promotion. Maintain a 3-1 ratio in your social media content strategy, according to Kibben’s advice. Three of every four tweets or posts you publish should highlight others and their excellent contributions, with only one advertising your own brand. This balanced approach demonstrates real concern for the community and positions you as a thought leader who prioritizes collaboration above self-centeredness.
As an HR thought leader, connecting with your tribe on social media is a reliable and great place to start. Remember, at the end of the day, engagement with your audience is the key to your success. To do this, you can run meaningful conversations through thought-provoking QA sessions, and by interacting with other influencers, you can elevate your online presence and reputation.
Joining trade organizations and labor unions provides you with resources and networking opportunities. You should take on a leadership role or volunteer on a committee to set yourself apart from your peers. This will increase your exposure to other influencers and possible employers, and it may even lead to job offers, as recruiters frequently poach talent at industry meet-ups and conferences.
Pro tip: When attending networking events, avoid wasting time by focusing on people you already know. Encourage yourself to make new contacts. If you don’t enjoy approaching individuals cold, schedule in-person encounters ahead of time via e-mail.
You may, for example, send a brief email to someone you’d like to meet, saying something like, “I read your book and saw you’re going to be speaking at the summit.” I’d want to meet with you for coffee to learn more about your job.”
Examine the individual’s social media feeds for shared interests that you can utilize as discussion topics in person.
Use your position to become a speaker or to moderate a panel on your area of expertise at industry events to maximize your visibility.
Do not wait to be contacted for these possibilities; instead, contact conference organizers and request to speak, or “talk to people who are already speaking and find out how they got on the docket,” Kibben advises. Keep in mind, the more you push, the more it’s likely to get the results.
It’s normal to feel anxious. It is beneficial to practice- “Start slow if you need to, and speak at an event for your local chapter, then work your way up to bigger events,” Paradiso advises.
You can also gain visibility and position yourself as a thought leader by appearing in news articles or TV segments within trade and mainstream media outlets. Contact reporters who cover topics relevant to your expertise directly by taking the initiative. In addition, journalists seeking sources with specific experiences or knowledge can use the website “Help a Reporter Out” (HARO), a reputable database. HARO provides valuable experts to prominent publications, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Above all, while this may seem apparent, stay true to yourself. Be yourself and approach the situation with positive intentions. “Becoming a thought leader isn’t just about selling yourself, making money, or amassing tens of thousands of followers,” Kibben explains. “It’s about thinking creatively and contributing to the evolution of your industry.”
Finally, even if your goal is to become a thought leader, don’t refer to yourself as one. Those who have been impacted declare true thought leaders to be influencers. This refers to their peers, not to themselves.