Personal Branding

Personal Branding Today: How to Become A Thought Leader by @seosmarty

Personal Branding
Photo Credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy via Compfight cc

by Ann Smarty

A new year, a new set of goals. Is there anything more exciting than a new cycle of time beginning? There is a sense of possibility, of a new horizon, with new opportunities. We all set our resolutions, and then do our best to stick to them until the next New Year comes.

For 2015, I want to challenge all of the people reading this to a very specific goal: Become a thought leader. What does this mean? Through better personal branding, you will become an undisputed authority, and use it to further solidify (or advance) your career in whatever field you currently reside in.

Establishing Yourself As A Thought Leader

Building your personal brand means you build your most important asset: You invest in yourself, in your independence. Thanks to my personal brand, for example, I’ve never had to look for a job. I’ve always had enough offers so that I could choose one.

The more popular your opinion becomes, the more clout it will have on the web. That can spark whole new trends and directions that you never imagined, with you as the origin. You will be creating something new, and getting others on board. You will be sharing your innovation with a wide audience that has already become reliant and trusting of your personal brand.

Immediately, this sets you apart; it makes you a thought leader.

How To Become A Thought Leader

There is really only one way to become a thought leader: Hard work. You have to regularly be showing your innovation and expertise as you navigate the over-saturated market of online content. You have to stand out by presenting new ideas, and getting people excited about what you say.

Don’t expect this to be a process that happens overnight. Establishing yourself as an authority is the first step, and that takes time. Once you have done so, you have to build up your fan base and start spreading your content in wider and wider circles across the web. That content has to be shared and respected by other thought leaders who will leverage their own authority to give you a boost up (be prepared to impress them, or this won’t happen).

You have to consistently give people something they can’t get anywhere else. It will be hard work, and you will have to trudge along through a lot of false starts. But ultimately, it will be worth it. Your personal brand will get stronger and stronger with each new step forward.

Tips For Developing Thought Leader Status

• Figure out your target audience, and be prepared to cater to their needs and interests.
• Make sure the topic you settle on is a personal and professional passion that you both have many opinions about, and won’t get sick of.
• Join the social network that meets your specified demands (Twitter for open platforms, Facebook for more personal discussions, YouTube for viral video success, LinkedIn for professional connections, etc).
• Exercise serendipity: Being everywhere and helping real people opens up lots of awesome opportunities you may have never thought of.
• Contribute to high-quality blogs in your industry. Use past guest blogs to encourage new bloggers with higher authority to give you a spot on their site.
• Share your ideas, even the crazy ones. Innovative and original ideas may often seem crazy: Don’t be afraid of that!
• Have discussions with other thought leaders, and form a community. While Facebook groups are good for that, I find Google Communities much more effective for mingling with niche influencers (at least in my industry)
• Get interviewed as an expert! Here are some easy and actionable tips for you.

Have any tips for becoming a thought leader? Let us know in the comments!


Ann SmartyAnn Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at as well as the founder of Ann has been into Internet Marketing for 7 years, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of regular Twitter chats #vcbuzz and #myblogu

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3 Replies to “Personal Branding Today: How to Become A Thought Leader by @seosmarty”

  1. Matt Charney

    This is quite literally the worst post I’ve ever read. I wish I could unread it. If you honestly think that there’s a path to becoming a thought leader or some template to doing so, well, you probably are also one of those people who think Klout is an actual measure of influence. Obviously your income is predicated on display ads or click baiting, but you can do that without being totally inane and incipient. I don’t troll but this one I had to say: this is everything that’s wrong with online content in one perfect storm of BS.

    1. Ann Smarty

      Matt, I am not sure what you are saying here. There’s no template to becoming a thought leader and I wasn’t giving one. And this is just plain wrong: “Obviously your income is predicated on display ads or click baiting” and has nothing to do with my article. Trolling or not, I don’t have anything to reply here….

  2. Makeda

    Great and insightful post. Thank you for sharing

Comments are closed.