Three steps to becoming a Thought Leader

Laura Foley, presentation thought leaderThought leadership is a relatively new term that describes being known for one’s expertise on a certain topic. A thought leader is seen as a visionary, someone with ideas that can improve the way things are done.

Yesterday I officially became a thought leader.

Become a PowerPoint Ninja in 2012 is an article on the Brainshark blog about how to use industry best practices to improve the way you look at PowerPoint and how you can make better use of this amazing tool. I am cited as a presentation thought leader among such experts as Nancy Duarte and M62. I didn’t expect it, but really it’s what I’ve been working towards ever since I restructured my business to focus mainly on PowerPoint design and training. All the blogging, commenting, and contributing to well-known websites has paid off, and now I am known as a presentation thought leader.

Can you do the same thing for yourself? Sure, if you want to work for it. Here’s how I made it happen:

1. Focus!

When I first became a graphic designer, I did all kinds of work: prepress, newspaper layout, corporate identity development, Web designer, icon developer, marketing materials, catalog design, etc. etc. etc. I was one designer among millions. What set me apart from the rest in my own mind were my skills, my strong work ethic, and my ability to deliver on time. But what set me apart from the crowd as far as the marketplace was concerned?

Nothing. To everyone else, I was just another Joe Schmoe graphic designer.

In 2009 I decided to become the best, most sought-after PowerPoint designer in the world. Aim high, right? Concentrating on one thing I’m good at, something that gives me great pleasure to accomplish made it easier to reposition myself as an expert.

I came up with a catchy phrase for what I do — Cheating Death by PowerPoint — to define my business to myself and others.

2. Ramp up the social media machine

After I refocused my business, it was time to tell the world.

I spend about a half an hour on social media pursuits every day, except on blog and newsletter days, when I might spend an hour or so preparing new articles or issues.

3. Share the wealth

After my repositioning, it was time to prove to the world that I know what I’m talking about and that what I have to say can help people improve the way they communicate with PowerPoint and achieve the results they want. As they say in BNI, “Givers gain,” so I do this by:

I won’t lie to you; it’s a lot of work doing all of this in order to position oneself as a thought leader. But if you’re passionate about what you do and want to help others to be as good at it as you are, then that’s half the battle won already.

Your Turn

Is being seen as a thought leader important to you? If so, what have you done or will you do in 2012 to become one?


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