You can’t change other people. You can transform by leading with your example. Jason Treu
Are leadership and leading voice the same thing? What does it mean to be a leading voice? Traditionally, we think of leadership as someone who guides a group of people or an organisation. A leading voice is someone that has a group of people following them. It doesn’t sound like much difference but what if I told you a solopreneur could be a leading voice. For example, a business coach who does not lead any organisation but at the same time is the go-to person for business advice.
Becoming a leading voice in your industry is an aspiration to have. It confers benefits with it such as deepening your knowledge, opening new opportunities, collaboration, lead generation and ultimately sales growth.
Read on to find out my top tips for becoming a leading voice, whether you’ve been in business one year or many.
Top tip #1: Have an opinion.
Getting people to listen to you and be interested in what you say happens when you have a voice. This voice has to be yours: your opinions, your thoughts, your passion. These are necessary ingredients for defining your voice. Start with your passion in industry e.g. latest technology and think through what your opinion is on the opportunities and challenges it poses. Once you have an opinion on something that you are passionate about it becomes more natural to talk about this.
Top tip #2: Define your audience.
Understand the characteristics of your audience. Where are they? Who are they? What do they care about? Knowing what your audience are interested in and what they want to know more about is a great way to boost your own skills. It helps you to shape your knowledge, stay up-to-date with current events and continually re-assess your voice.
Top tip #3: Publish content online.
Some people have a natural affinity with getting up and speaking to a room of 20-30 people. Other people find in intimidating and that is okay. Being a leading voice is about having something worthwhile to say and offering help and insight. If speaking at a public event is not something you feel naturally comfortable with then begin by publishing content online. This can be as small as tweeting relevant news and insight, to writing posts on LinkedIn and Facebook, to writing long form blogs or articles on your own website.
If you don’t have a website yet don’t worry you can use LinkedIn or Medium to publish content. For example, last year in the middle of the ‘Beast from the East’ weather a plumber wrote a post on Facebook explaining what to do if your pipes freeze up in winter. Unsurprisingly, this post went viral and he got inundated with requests for quotes.
Top tip #4: Attend networks and offer to do speaking events.
If you have been publishing content online and you have become more confident in your own voice then the next step up is to attend networks, introduce yourself to others and offer advice and suggestions when asked about something related to your industry. The more networks you attend the more people that will get to know you. However, if you only feel comfortable attending smaller events with 10-12 people that is still a way to become a leading voice. If what you have to say is powerful, and each one of those people in the room tells 11 people then that’s over 100 people that hear your name in relation to your industry.
The next step up from this is to offer to do speaking events, a lot of the time at networks they have guest speakers or key speakers and each time the specialism varies. You could put forward your name for your industry. Be prepared, make notes, stay current, absorb information and news relating to your industry.
Top tip #5: Keep up-to-date with your knowledge and understanding.
For all of the above to work successfully you need to consider it a repeating cycle. The more you know about your subject the more you will get asked for insight and opinion, and the more you get asked for opinion the more you will know.
They have a dependent relationship on each other. Use social media, white papers, news articles, blogs, etc to stay up-to-date with relevant opportunities and challenges in your industry. Inform and educate yourself on what these can offer you or your clients. Offer advice and suggestions to others if you know a current improvement that can benefit them or their business.
Being a leading voice in your industry will help with lead generation and sales. Your knowledge and understanding of the subject matter will make it likely that people call on you for advice and recommend you to others looking for help. Becoming a leading voice isn’t something that happens overnight, and it does take time for your name to come up in conversations, but this doesn’t happen automatically. You have to begin by publishing content and attending speaking events, no matter the size. The most important thing is you have authority on the subject matter by understanding what it is you are trying to say to others and being consistent.
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