As a passionate person who loves to build bridges and has a global vision, people often refer to me as a thought leader. I am honored to be called that, and humbled to be among so many amazing people in that category. So, I decided to create a list of things you can do to become a thought leader in your industry or around your passion.

1. Research. People want data. Take the time to do the research, find other influential, respected leaders in your field. See if they have published articles, research papers and what they are speaking to specifically. Do they have a niche? Be ready to point people and deliver the facts on your area, as well as support your knowledge and expertise. It’s always great to have a fact sheet that you can deliver at any time for people to remember you by.
2. Get Connected. Find your tribe in your industry as well as those that you want to influence. Connect with them digitally and personally. Start locally with the local networks in your city, the key influencers you want to impact, companies you want to connect with as well as professional networks you want to stay in front of.
3. Listen. I can’t stress this enough. Do your own personal informal research, as you connect with people in different networks and ask them questions. See how you can be in service and answer their concerns. People and companies need help plugging in many gaps, no matter how much you think you people will listen to you because you have a wealth of experience and think you’re God’s gift to the world, no one cares unless you can actually fill a gap or a pain they are experiencing.
4. Write. Start writing blog posts, articles, get published in your local newspapers and in your professional networks you are connecting to. Answer the questions and concerns people and organizations are experiencing.
5. Talk. Present.Video. Start presenting to professional organizations, create workshops that can deliver on your expertise of knowledge. Continue to increase your referrals for more speaking engagements. Also consider doing videos whether they are live videos on social platforms or even videos to upload to your personal page to deliver much needed advice and information that can address the needs of your target audience. Deliver those videos in emails, newsletters as well as on your own platforms so people can see and know you. Finally—this goes for all the above and must be included in all—BE YOURSELF. BE AUTHENTIC. People want to get to know you, trust you, and feel that you really care.

~Shatha Barbour