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How To Be A Thought Leader On LinkedIn

Posted: 10th June 2015

Being seen as a credible expert in your chosen field can do wonders for your business and brand, as it means many look to you as an authority on certain subjects. This is a well sought after status, but one which takes perseverance and patience to reach – and so we have seen the rise of the coveted accolade of the ’Thought Leader’.

However, as grand as the title sounds, it’s not as difficult as finding the gold at the end of the rainbow. All it takes is careful sharing and a depth of understanding. So let’s tackle thought leadership!

What exactly is Thought Leadership?

Generally a Thought Leader is defined as a person, or company, who is seen as an authority in a specific field or industry, think about it as –

Thought leadership” is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.

Thought Leaders have an in-depth knowledge of their field and offer informed opinions and answer the questions that others in the industry may have.  It’s all about building up a good and respected reputation by sharing content that is helpful, insightful and interesting.

However, it is something that has to be earned and you can’t just claim the title. People should be enjoying and engaging with your content, other people have to think that it is helpful and then you can become an acknowledged expert. This is where LinkedIn is a powerful social tool for businesses and professionals and it comes hand-in-hand with becoming a thought leader, establishing your expertise.

How do you become a Thought Leader?

Becoming a Thought Leader can be seen as part of your content marketing strategy, incorporating the content you publish and share. You should think about  –

  • Offering interesting and engaging content
  • Engaging and educating your audience
  • Inviting your audience to participate in conversations and questions.


When posting content think about the questions your target audience may have, then you can provide them with relevant and informative answers, whilst improving your authoriative standing in the community. Identify and explain their problem, then offer a solution, aiming to become the ‘go-to’ person in your industry.

Thought Leaders are active on LinkedIn and there are a couple of things they do to help them be seen as experts, and they are simple enough to replicate –

  • Regularly update your status with valuable content – avoid obvious self-promotion
  • Comment on articles – make insightful contributions
  • Share articles – either from the web or your own, just always include your own opinion or perspective
  • Make sure your profile is up-to-scratch, showing why you are an expert and valid as a thought leader
  • Start your own LinkedIn Group – giving you exposure, plus your position as admin gives an assumed expertise
  • Contribute to LinkedIn Groups – constantly engage and respond
  • Stay on top of trends and news in your industry
  • Make sure your content is innovative and inspiring – share new ideas
  • Start conversations and keep debates and discussions going
  • Publish content that recognises your unique expertise, whilst keeping in mind brand values.

If you’re feeling a little lost on where to start look at other thought leaders and what they do. Let them inspire your content, but never simply copy what they do as you want to differentiate yourself and be seen as unique. It might be a better idea to look at thought leaders in a different field – this way you won’t be tempted to ‘copy-and-paste’, but can pick up on different techniques.

Here’s one to get you started; Shannon Stubo, VP Corporate Communications for LinkedIn believes that Shell are doing it well –

“Shell has also been a trailblazer in this area, and it shows. Their thought leadership pieces are clean, clear, beautifully designed and well-tied back to the brand values.”

For digital marketing I think David Edelman is a shining example of thought leadership on behalf of McKinsey Management Consultants.

Once you have begun to establish yourself never stop! It takes time to build up your reputation as a thought leader and once you’ve got there you have to keep earning it, as it can disappear easily, don’t let your hard work got to waste and carry on engaging.

What are the benefits of becoming a Thought Leader?

According to Catriona Pollard of The Huffington Post, “Being positioned as a thought leader in your industry helps your business gain credibility and visibility, and builds your own personal brand.”

When you reach the status of a thought leader you have become a credible and trusted source in the field and there are certain benefits that come with this –

  • It can increase the demand for your product or service – your content and expertise will inspire an action
  • It will grow your presence whilst building relationships
  • People will come to you for advice and begin to seek you out
  • There is a certain brand affinity and people will connect and come to you first
  • You become search-optimized – the more active you are they easier you are to find
  • You can gain a competitive edge.


Joe Chernov, VP Marketing, Hubspot put it like this-

“I don’t think you can gain a competitive advantage without thought leadership. The reason why thought leadership is pre-requisite is because trust is a pre-requisite and thought leadership is a way to build trust.”

Thought leadership and trust come hand-in-hand. Businesses can use thought leadership to build a more competitive reputation and ultimately drive more revenue.

We mentioned in a previous blog that of all B2B leads generated through social media over 80% of them came through LinkedIn – thought leader status means you are able to drive more of these leads to you. If people are looking for a service or product through LinkedIn and you are easy to find and a figure of authority they will come to you first.

Becoming a thought leader will benefit your business in all areas – people trust your good reputation, are more open to your services, are more likely to recommend you and ‘know’ and trust you.

Thought leadership 2

If you are interested in attending a full day Masterclass on LinkedIn Theory & Practice come along to Edinburgh Chamber of Tuesday 30th June.  

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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