Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

How to Be Seen as a Thought Leader in Just 15 Minutes a Week

You may think that to be a thought leader, you have to provide answers to life’s mysteries, be a TED Talk speaker, or pioneer a technology that turns the world on its head. But you’d be wrong.

While many thought leaders do eventually make massive splashes, most get their start the same way: by identifying useful ideas and sharing the heck out of them.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

Now that you know the truth, set aside 15 minutes each week to market your knowledge:

8 Minutes: Use What’s Already Available

Crafting original content is an excellent way to share what you know, and you don’t need to begin at square one to do it. Ever hear the advice “Steal like an artist?” It means to remix, mash up, and transform something (anything!) so that it takes on a new meaning or purpose.

I’m telling you to steal—from yourself—like an artist.

Look to your existing body of work for content that already demonstrates your expertise. Old reports, white papers, and old blog posts are really all you need. Don’t consider yourself a writer? Look for emails where you’ve answered tough questions for clients or co-workers and laid out your thinking particularly well. Pull quotes and tips from your work, creating a “dump file” of short-form content that you can turn into social media updates.

Here’s a snippet from my current dump file:

“Do the thinking for them while still leaving room for discovery. #CoverLetterTip #CareerAdvice”

“Wondering about a company’s culture? Get it straight from the horse’s mouth! Chat with existing employees to get the real scoop. #TuesdayTip”

“Never use a dead-end resume. Make it easy for employers to click through to a place on the web that that makes you shine. #ResumeAdvice”

If you spend six minutes trolling, and two minutes creating your update, you’ve officially shared a thought-leadership tip for the week. (Another option is to do this one afternoon and use a social media management tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to automate your posts. Think about it: If you pulled 12 tips and scheduled one a week, you’d be set for three months!)

5 Minutes: Curate Killer Content

Sharing other people’s ideas is as important, if not more important, as giving your followers a taste of your personal thoughts. Aligning yourself with trusted resources builds credibility, and it’s a failsafe against coming across as self-obsessed—critical when you’re looking to engage with and inspire people.

It feels like there are 101 content curation tools out there, but here’s my easy-peasy two-step strategy:

  • Step 1: Follow companies and industry leaders that you admire.
  • Step 2: Share the best of what they share, with a quick comment to add your voice to the posts.

Two steps, done and done. If you’re sharing content that’s both meaningful and speaks to the problems of your target audience, it qualifies as “killer.” For added flash and bang, tag your post with the name of the person or company whose content you’re sharing; this way, you’re citing your sources and placing yourself on the radar of go-to people in your field in one fell swoop.

2 Minutes: Get “Real”

The fact is, bridging the gap between your digital brand and the physical world is one of the most powerful ways to anchor yourself in the minds of followers—and it takes practically no time at all. Live-tweet or share from Meetups, conferences, and seminars that you attend, as they unfold.

Give your audience the inside edge!

Post behind-the-scenes photos (maybe even an event selfie), quote speakers, and link to posts shared by others at the event. And for the love of everything that is good, be sure you utilize event hashtags and give your followers the heads-up you’ll be tweeting live! Don’t worry: One or two tweets should do it. You can—and should—remain present at your event.

Don’t let high-powered podcasts and blogs intimidate you from taking steps toward thought leadership! In about the time it takes to heat a frozen pizza, you can do some serious authority marketing and position yourself as an informed opinion-maker in your industry.

Photo of man leading courtesy of BraunS/Getty Images.