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thought leadership tactics Polywork

Tools and tactics to build thought leadership for your personal brand

Have you ever thought, “I’d love to be known as the expert in [topic you care about]” or “I really wish more people would seek me out for help with [skill you specialize in]”?

Building thought leadership may be the answer.

Growing thought leadership around subjects you’re passionate about can help solidify your personal brand, give you more natural opportunities for self-promotion, and push your career forward. And while it may seem like yet another thing to add to your to-do list, it’s not that hard to create a solid thought leadership foundation. It can even be fun, giving you an excuse to wax poetic about the things that truly excite you.

More about why you should start investing in building thought leadership, along with a few easy ways to get started, below.

What is thought leadership, and why does it matter?

Thought leadership is, at its simplest, an opportunity to show the world all the brilliant things going on in that brain of yours. By regularly sharing your subject matter expertise, behind-the-scenes insights on how you work, and thoughts on industry trends, you can build your personal brand and start to become known as a go-to expert in those areas.

Moreover, seeking out opportunities to share thought leadership creates easy opportunities for self-promotion (without feeling like you’re bragging). You’re providing value to other people and, in turn, they’re getting a peek at what you bring to the table—a win, win!

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Over time, building thought leadership can help expand your network, grow a client base in your field (if that’s something you’re trying to do), and get access to opportunities for career growth that otherwise may have come your way. In one study, 54% of business decision-makers spend over an hour per week reviewing thought leadership, looking to these insights to help them stay up-to-date with the latest thinking in their field, generate new ideas, and understand industry trends. By sharing how you’re thinking about the work you do, you’ll be helping to push your industry forward.

Ways to build thought leadership

Ready to dip your toes in the thought leadership waters? Here are five great ways to build thought leadership, plus some tools and platforms to help you do so.

1. Write something! Anything!

Source: Polywork

A very popular avenue for showing off industry expertise is via writing a blog or newsletter. If you think having a commitment to publish something on a regular basis will be motivating, then fire up your Substack, Medium, or any other platform you prefer, and get writing!

But if coming up with helpful insights and influential ideas that consistently feels overwhelming, you can still reap the benefits of writing to grow your personal brand. For instance, maybe you write a short ebook or landing page of resources that you repromote over time instead of creating brand new content (we love how easy engineer Andrew McCaughan made this by creating something on Notion). Maybe you seek out guest blogging opportunities on industry publications once a quarter. Quality often beats quantity when it comes to building influence, so do what feels manageable for you.

2. Be an expert source for journalists

Like the idea of being published but don’t want to actually have to write anything? Journalists are often looking for experts to cite in their articles, which can be a great way to share your insights and build industry credibility.

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The HARO (Help a Reporter Out) newsletter can be a great way to find these opportunities, though it’s a bit overwhelming given the volume of requests that come through. Qwoted is another platform that connects journalists to sources, and is a bit more curated (though does require a paid subscription for more than two pitches a month). You can also follow your favorite industry journalists online to see when they’re looking for sources, or reach out and offer to be a resource if they ever need support.

3. Speak on stages (or podcasts)

Source: Polywork

Another popular option for building thought leadership is getting speaking opportunities. Standing on stage at a major industry conference in front of all your peers is a great way to get your name and expertise out there—but it’s also not for everyone. Being a speaker can be a job in and of itself, so finding gigs and perfecting your presentations can take a considerable amount of work. (Work you might not be particularly excited to do if you have any level of stage fright.)

A lower-lift alternative? Seek out guest opportunities on podcasts. These typically require less preparation since they’re structured as more of a casual conversation, can be done from the comfort of your own desk chair, and still give you a chance to share your thoughts with an aligned audience. Reach out to your favorite industry podcasts to offer to be a guest, use tools like Listen Notes or Rephonic to find podcasts that are seeking guests, or watch for podcast guest opportunities on Polywork!

4. Make some viral videos


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Turn your social media scrolling into an opportunity to build industry influence by making videos that show off your thinking. Short form video isn’t just for funny memes—63% of Gen Z heads to TikTok for educational or informative content about everything from career planning to politics to STEM.

And you don’t even have to dance. You’d be surprised how much traction you can gain by thinking of some truly valuable insights you have to share and condensing them down to bite-sized videos to share with the world.

5. Share your expertise one-on-one

Source: Polywork

Building thought leadership can also be done one person at a time. If all of this sounds overwhelming, consider just offering a certain number of “pick your brain” conversations each month, or even making a little side cash by charging for these calls on platforms like Clarity. You’ll connect with new folks and they’ll likely remember the impact and happily refer you to others looking for your expertise.

Whatever approach you take, make sure you have a cohesive personal branding statement to publish alongside your thought leadership, and a strong personal website to link back to. That way, once you impress someone with your brilliance, they have easy ways to learn more about what you do.