Top 20 Venues for Thought Leaders

While there are many ways you can establish your personal brand online and offline and inevitably stand out from others in your industry, functional area or even job candidate pool, one of the most powerful ways is demonstrating your unique value contribution through thought leadership.

A thought leader is by definition someone who is recognized for his or her innovative ideas, opinions, and/or perspective. However, if you want to be recognized as such, you must actually share your ideas, opinions and/or perspective with others.

Here are the top 20 venues for new and veteran thought leaders to share their value, expand their audience and grow their reputation and personal brand.

  • LinkedIn Answers: LinkedIn Answers is a unique Q&A forum that allows LinkedIn users to post questions and contribute answers to others’ questions. Getting involved in asking questions, answering questions and sharing insights and ideas related to your chosen industry is an effective way to establish your personal brand in an area of expertise.
  • Quora: Quora has combined the power of Q&A and Wikipedia into one platform where each question and answer become a living document that users can continuously discuss and update. Quora can be a great way to establish credibility and visibility. It also can be a comprehensive resource for networking and gathering information for future work and content, entrepreneurial ventures and/or personal efforts.
  • Your Own Blog: Blogging and contributing value-added content to better serve your industry can be an outstanding way to increase your visibility and demonstrate your unique value to potential employers and career stakeholders. Blogs are very easy to get started. There are both free and self-hosted platforms to choose from, including WordPress, Blogger and Typepad.
  • Guest Posting: If you’re not ready to commit to starting your own blog, consider writing content to contribute to other industry blogs. To find candidate blogs for your posts, do a quick Google search, check out the blogrolls of leading blogs in your area and check Alltop, an online magazine rack that provides a list of all the top blogs by industry or topic category.
  • Commenting: In addition to writing your own content, don’t forget to respond to the content that others publish on their blogs, as that can help you network your brand with other thought leaders and demonstrates your involvement. Again, use Google, blogrolls and Alltop to identify relevant blogs on which to become active.
  • LinkedIn Groups: There are thousands of LinkedIn Groups for you to join, including alumni groups, industry-specific groups, special interest groups and more. Start being active and contributing value from Day 1. Share interesting news with your groups, post links to intriguing articles and join in group discussions to show your investment in your industry or area of interest.
  • Facebook: While Facebook is intended to be more social than professional, this doesn’t mean it isn’t a venue for you to brand yourself. Share your activities and contributions or valuable resources in moderation with your friends, family and connections. They may already know you and your brand, but this will continue to reinforce it.
  • Twitter: Micro-blogging with Twitter is another way you can network with others, engage people in conversation and contribute value from your own blog, other industry blogs and websites and other thought leaders online.
  • HARO: HARO is a free personal branding service that connects professionals and students with writers, bloggers and journalists seeking sources for their articles, books, blog posts, etc. This can be a great way to get quoted in industry publications and increase your credibility and visibility among your peers.
  • Reviews: Writing a thoughtful review demonstrates your opinion of and take on someone else’s ideas and contributions. Leverage sites like Amazon to share your responses to others’ work.
  • HubPages: HubPages is an online platform where you can share your advice, reviews, useful tips, opinions and insights with hundreds of other authors and visitors without having to host, manage and market your own site or blog.
  • Squidoo: Squidoo is another platform for creating single webpages on your interests and recommendations, inevitably enhancing your online presence, search engine rankings and personal brand.
  • Google Knol: Google Knol is another platform where you can create, collaborate on, and publish credible web content without managing and driving traffic to your own website or blog.
  • SlideShare: Whether you have a presentation you have given before that you want to post, want to create a new presentation for others to view or have a portfolio of work to show off, SlideShare is a great tool that allows you to feature your presentations and documents and demonstrate your expertise and ideas in your chosen field.
  • Self-Publishing: If you interested in authoring longer works for your industry, consider self-publishing a book through CreateSpace or Lulu. You can also self-publish e-books in pdf format and share them via your blog, Scribd, SlideShare and across your networks.
  • Publishing: While there is no shame in self-publishing, getting published by a publishing house or publication does carry some prestige and credibility. You may know of publications and/or publishers in your industry to which you may want to send your content, but do check out the Writers Market series, as they provide invaluable resources and directories for writers.
  • Speaking & Teaching: Getting in front of an audience and sharing your expertise and ideas with them is an effective way to brand yourself as an expert. Identify something on which you can speak or present or even teach to a group of people and offer to contribute to an upcoming industry event or event put on by any associations you have joined. This will obviously take practice and may require you working your way up to bigger venues. You can also host your own events and market them to your local community and network. Promote your events online through LinkedIn, Facebook and Eventbrite. Remember, if you don’t have a physical space, you can also offer teleseminars and webinars which may attract larger audiences from around the country and world.
  • Video: More and more professionals are leveraging the power of video to market themselves, their expertise and/or their offerings. Sites like YouTube are popular platforms for featuring and marketing your thought leadership through video.
  • BusinessWeek Business Exchange: BWBX is a networking platform where you can both connect with fellow professionals in your industry and areas of interest, but also where you can share online articles and resources, including your own.
  • Networking: General career and business networking both online and offline will enhance your personal brand presence and connect you with other thought leaders, career stakeholders and potential followers. Attend in-person events in your industry, join local trade associations and make a point to network with at least one new person every week. Compliment your offline efforts by networking with other professionals online, using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Networking Roulette by Brazen Careerist, BeKnown by Monster and any other tools or forums within your area of interest.

What are some other top venues where you share your ideas, opinions and personal brand?

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

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