Once upon a dream, I was just a regular student with loads of plans and a vision to become an entrepreneur. If someone had told me back then that I would be so determined and become just that, I would have probably laughed. Don’t get me wrong. I am no Elon Musk. I’m just a regular guy with a dream to keep alive and a passion about thought leadership.
But I have fought, and I am still fighting to keep it growing. I made tons of mistakes. If you have heard at all about me you probably know that at first, I was a typical salesman. Pushy and salesy. Hardwired and determined.
I would have done whatever it takes to sell my service. To prove people that I am their guy. That they should give me a chance and invest their time and money in me and my service. I never wondered why exactly they should do that. Why they would trust me. Because I am a good guy? Because I really want my dream to come true? How is that any of their business?
Fast forward a few years, I have learned my lesson. And I am still learning. But no worries, I have never been the stingy kind of guy. I love sharing the lessons that I’ve learned and ensuring that not everyone should make the same mistakes I did.
Let me tell you the story, then.
Balance is everything
We hear the term ‘thought leader’ a lot. Especially with the expansion of LinkedIn as one of the most used social business platforms. The term is tossed around a lot, especially online. We often hear about people being thought leaders, driving changes and steering trends. Before you can become one, you must understand what this particular role means and why it is important.
According to a Forbes article, “A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”
Having this put, I must also point out that this is not a title that you can just grab from the shelf and wake up the next morning and say: ‘Hey, I am a thought leader from today on.’ Like any other title (except a royal one, of course), it must be earned.
That’s why I always, always, emphasize the importance of posting from your personal LinkedIn profile. Posting from your personal profile is like riding a bike. You got to keep your balance if you want to keep moving forward. What do I mean by keeping your balance?
Well, you are a businessmen let’s say. Your business, success, deals and clients are important to you, sure. You have some really useful insights that you want to share with your audience. I got that. But are you all about business? Does your whole world revolve around your work? Definitely not.
That’s what you want people to see. That you are a person underneath that business attire. You have family, friends, you like to go out, eat junk food, you also have your fears, your personal losses, you have a life.
People are more prone to relate to your personal story. They like to see that they are not alone out there. That there are people who go through the exact same things. Still not sure how to do this the right way? Well, worry no more cause I have dissected all this stuff into tiny, chewable bits for you.
Let’s hop on, shall we?
Business post topics
These are the posts that are associated with your business and your area of expertise. And remember, we’re not trying to sell, but we’re aiming for providing value and building relationships. So the less promoting content, the better. Your ideal prospects can see right through it. But do share valuable tips and insights, interesting and insightful carrier stories, also details about your company culture and social responsibility practices. Even when it comes to business posts, storytelling is key.
Thought Leadership #1: Area of expertise
As an expert in your industry field, you should be sharing your knowledge in a non-salesy and pushy way. This means that writing about what you know best shouldn’t be done in a commercial or promotional manner. You are not selling your product. You are sharing tips and tricks for your audience, based on your experience, thus providing value to them.
Thought Leadership #2: Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is one of the most popular LinkedIn topics. It’s so trending that it seems like everyone is talking about it. Being an entrepreneur yourself, you know all the assets and downsides to the profession. Sharing your success as well as your losses will broadcast you as a normal human being, prone to everything that the job has to offer. It’s a statement about the true nature of entrepreneurship with all its ups and downs. This way, your network of fellow entrepreneurs can easily relate to you.
Thought Leadership #3: Self-promotion
Self-promotion is important for growing your contacts’ network. But the line between self-promotion and pure bragging is really thin. That’s why you need to be careful not to overdo it. What does overdoing it mean?
Well, for starters, you are not trying to sell any services via your self-promotion posts. You are not saying that you’re the best in your industry or that people should applaud you.
You can talk about and not push it, by saying a couple of words for the events you have lined up, podcasts, webinars or some guest appearances you may have. These kinds of posts are definitely going to do wonders about putting you out there, without making you sound pushy or boastful.
Thought Leadership #4: Company founding
People like to read and listen to success stories. The really personal ones, telling how you’ve started with just a couple of bucks in your pockets and you’ve founded a well-established business. People find them motivational and inspiring. I know I loved and I still love them. Sometimes when life brings us down, what we need is either a hug or a motivational story like these. They can be the pick-up hand when we are let down.
Thought Leadership #5: Origin story
We all have our journey. Telling our stories is not an end in itself, but an attempt to release ourselves from them, to evolve and grow beyond them. We tell our stories to transform ourselves; to learn about our history and tell our experiences to transcend them, to use our stories to make a difference in our world; to broaden our perspective to see further than normal, to act beyond a story that may have imprisoned or enslaved us, to live more of our spiritual and earthly potential.
It’s of the essence for people to hear where we came from. That not everything was rainbows and butterflies. That we struggled, but we overcame all the obstacles on the way and that here we are today, stronger than ever. Who knows, maybe your story will inspire someone to start the business they wanted to start for years? Maybe you’ll be the reason that someone gives something another chance?
Thought Leadership #6: Curated articles
Content curation is one of the ways to provide extra value to your audience while networking with other industry experts. It’s about finding great content and presenting it in a way that adds value. Any area of interest of yours is an interest to other experts as well. Chances are, your peers have created some fantastic content that your audience will find extremely valuable.
You can share an article written by a teammate or a colleague. Or you can also reach for the stars and share some content from the most prominent thought leader in your field. You have nothing to lose, and so much to gain. These types of posts can do wonders for your networking with other thought leaders from your field of expertise.
Thought Leadership #7: Company culture
Owning a successful business means you already know that your clients and employees come first. That’s not something you question, that’s something you do without even blinking. You put people first. Their needs and concerns are without any shadow of a doubt the centre of your business universe. Sharing content about the importance of your people’s needs and also about how you value your team and their efforts will showcase your company’s core values. And people always go where they are valued the most.
Thought Leadership #8: Everyday work experiences
Sharing your everyday work experience can be of tremendous value to other fellow entrepreneurs and your colleagues. Let’s say you had a sales call that ended up badly. You didn’t close the potential client, and you were disappointed. Telling people what you did wrong and preaching on the ways how you can prevent this from happening the next time around, may surely save them a lot of pain and trouble. You’ll spare them the bad experience you’ve had and they will appreciate you for it.
Thought Leadership #9: Recognition & Kudos
Posts dedicated to your employees, colleagues and collaborators. Maybe the best type. Valuing the people that you work with will always benefit you in all the ways possible. People always stay and stick with the managers and bosses who appreciate them. Feel free to tag them, too! Say how much you enjoy working with them and that they are a crucial part of who you are today.
Thought Leadership #10: Social responsibility
Being a socially responsible individual speaks a lot about you as a person. Nowadays, people are increasingly ramping up their focus on social responsibility, whether it’s championing women’s rights, protecting the environment, rescuing stray animals, or attempting to fight poverty on a local, national, or global levels. From your audience perspective, socially responsible people are the image of care, good-heartedness and appreciation. Or, in other words, someone whom they would love to work with.
Thought leadership does not depend on company posts only. It can be used in personal posts as well.
Personal post topics
Even in the B2B world, at the end of the day, communication is being established, and relationships are being built between people. People with unique personalities, opinions, values. After all, we are all people. We are not just business. So feel more than free to share that. Share your interests, hobbies, travels, fears, personal accomplishments. As always, people are eager to dive into the ordinary titbits. LinkedIn is not Facebook, Instagram, nor TikTok, that’s for sure, but that doesn’t mean that it is not the right place for your personality to shine.
Thought Leader #1: Passions
Talking about your passions and the things that you love is of great importance. People love people who are real. The ones who have hopes and dreams, passions and fears. People of flesh and blood, people who are not all about work. Telling your audience that you love travelling, or helping stray animals, or reading books makes you look authentic. Your connections can easily relate to these kinds of posts, so make sure that you engage your audience in your passions once in a while.
Thought Leader #2: Hobbies
Everybody has a hobby. Some love to watch movies. Some love jogging, or Pilates, or yoga or reading books. Others are maybe into painting, composing, doing arts and crafts or something similar. But we all have something that we turn to after the long working day. A hobby is a vent that everybody needs. It goes without saying that sharing a few sentences or pictures from you riding a horse, or swimming will bring you closer to your audience. Some will share the same hobby with you. Others will get inspired by you doing what you love. But these posts will surely shake up everyone’s interest.
Thought Leader #3: Favourites
People love reading about other people tastes and make comparisons. Are you a fan of a certain author? Is there a book that really shook you to the core? What about that super cool show on HBO or Netflix that you cannot stop watching?! As a living, breathing being, you have many favourites to number. Favourite movie, show, play, food, restaurant, author, singer and so on. And there’s someone in your audience who surely shares that with you. What a starting point for discussion, isn’t it? The best thing is, we relish all these topics because we learn something from them. Sharing the lessons learned is what LinkedIn is all about.
Thought Leader #4: Values and drives
What are your core values, and why is it important to post about them? Your core values are principles that you find desirable, important or even essential. An alignment between your career and your core values produces satisfaction, a sense of happiness and fulfilment. A misalignment can cause can everything from minor problems to major disruptions. Many people are not aware of their values and what drives them to be who they are. So posting about yours can inspire them in the most unusual ways.
Thought Leader #5: Influences
There are many people who inspired you to be who you are today. Maybe that was a member of your family who never stopped believing in you. A primary school teacher who saw your potential long before anyone else did. Maybe you’ve become who you are today because of a famous person who you truly admired. Perhaps it was their kindness, dedication or success that paved your way.
Whoever that person may be, you surely want to say that they have influenced your life in a way that they are not even aware of. So don’t refrain from telling that. Posts about people who influenced your life always go a long way.
Thought Leader #6: Daily routine
We all have our daily routines that we follow. We get up in the morning, shower, have our morning coffee, go for a jog, or meditate or do some stretching. Then we go about our busy lives, have lunch, a couple of meetings and later in the evening we relax watching some show or maybe we go out to grab a bite. We can all relate to this routine and as dull as it may look now that you are reading about it, it’s a fact that this is what almost all of us do. Saying it out loud will not only bring you a step closer to your audience but will also trigger amazing engagement.
Thought Leader #7: Personal traits you’re proud of
Saying what we are proud of is not bragging. It’s just pausing for a second to reflect on what we are grateful for. Let’s be honest. Nobody but ourselves has brought us where we are today. And we should surely take the time to reflect and thank ourselves for the amazing things that we did on the way. Just be careful not to overstep the line. Nobody likes to read about people who think they are the best or that they know everything. But saying that you’ve been brave enough to open up your own business, or kind enough to help others in need is not boastful, and it may even inspire people to do the same.
Thought Leader #8: Personal traits you value in others
I’m sure that there are at least a couple of people you love and appreciate dearly. More often than not, these people are your biggest fans, supporters, your rocks. Why exactly do you value them for? Is it because of their patience? Their ability to show genuine care and love? Their bravery to withstand everything that life may throw at them? Or is it something completely else? Showing that you really appreciate and care about the people in your life makes you look up to the mark.
Thought Leader #9: Motivation
Sometimes it’s hard to even get out of bed. But we still find the strength and the motivation to do it. So what motivates you, and what makes you wake up each morning? What drives you, and why do you go through life each day?
Most of us wake up and go to work feeling 0 motivation. The truth is, you will feel motivated when you chase your dreams and are fulfilling your destiny, not when you chase money. But life is about making an impact, not making an income. You will never have enough if what motivates you are just money.
So stop for a bit and think about what really motivates you. What lies behind the need to earn more money? Is it security? Comfort? Being able to give your kids what your parents couldn’t give to you? Is it health issues? Make sure you dig deep and tell the real story. Because real is powerful. And unique.
Thought Leader #10: Inspiration
The line with inspirational quotes and posts is really, really thin. There’s nothing easier than to overstep it, and instead of sounding inspirational, you start sounding plain dull. The safest thing you can do about these posts is to write about what inspires you. Maybe you are inspired by other people’s success. Or you are inspired by purely altruistic reasons. Maybe your goal is to be insanely rich and be able to take care of your family without any worry in the world. Inspiration is not easy to find, but once you find it make sure it drives you places where you’ve always wanted to be. Make sure you constantly work on keeping it alive. And, make sure that you share a bit about what inspires you on LinkedIn.
We are a set of many things. The man is an inexhaustible well that every day discovers a new and unique depth in itself. You are not just your job, your bank account, your house or your hobby. You are a sum of thousands of things, and each of them makes you special and unique.
We are not stars. We are all constellations. Show your true colours to your audience and make sure you present them as bright as you can. We all have brightness inside that can lit up a thousand worlds. And who knows whose world that brightness might have ignited?
There are many things that made us who we are today. We have overcome many obstacles to be where we are. The destination may be uncertain, and the road may be scary, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up. You know what they say, ‘It’s always darkest before dawn,’ and who knows, maybe tomorrow is your chance to shine.
Dancho is a serial entrepreneur, founder & CEO of BizzBee Solutions, proud father of two boys, and a ‘kafana’ enthusiast. He’s also the author of Amazon’s bestseller, ‘Sweet Leads.’ Dancho believes in building relationships with people and is inspired by growth. His ‘ZZ framework’ and formula for growth have brought 500+ clients the results they sought.
Eager to learn more? Follow Dancho on LinkedIn and Facebook.