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Are you a “know-it-all”? Have strong opinions? Known as the “resident expert”? These were some of the questions raised during IABC New Jersey’s Feb. 3 professional development program on developing thought leadership’s role in an organization’s communications.

When we think of thought leaders – Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, even Taylor Swift – those who impact society may come to mind. These individuals are all thought leaders to some extent, but let’s focus on thought leadership as a business strategy.

There are a lot of definitions out there. People use jargon to declare themselves thought leaders because they wrote a book or have an occasional speaking gig. So, what exactly is a thought leader?

Joel Kurtzman, a Senior Fellow at the non-partisan think tank Milken Institute, created the term “thought leader” and defined it as, the difference between content marketing and thought leadership is that you’re not just trying to further knowledge – you’re trying to further a discussion that leads to action.

Program moderator Jeanine Moss, founder and president of Turning Point Solutions, provided practical advice and a better understanding of how to position yourself or your organization as a thought leader, the impact, importance and benefits. The reasons for doing so are varied and can include:

  • Awareness of expertise – more inquiries about it

  • Higher and faster close rates – better demonstrate your expertise

  • Higher fees – differentiate your expertise

  • Generating revenue from new prospects and existing customers

  • Building reputation/brand as insightful, innovative thinking

  • Talent retention, attraction and development

  • Business growth

David Polinchock, Director of AT&T Big Data team, brought the story to life and introduced the audience to his successful path to becoming a thought leader. He showed how thought leadership is about engagement, interaction, influence and, most importantly, understanding your audience and what’s in it for them (WIIFM).

Todd Grossman, CEO-America of talkwalker, discussed successful thought leaders and how they maintain their prominence. Practical advice included what can and should be measured, and examples of how to get buy-in and support from the C-Suite.

The Q&A portion of the evening covered practical steps towards become a thought leader – doing it right and getting best outcomes; measurement specifics, and the caveat that consistency, collaboration and flexibility are just some points to keep in mind.

Our next event on Social Media Trends and Best Practices will be held March 5 at Rutgers University. Look for your e-invitation.

Resources: http://bloomgroup.com/ –Thought leadership marketing and http://amecorg.com/ –International association for the measurement and evaluation of communications.

You can find our panelists in cyberspace:

Jeanine Moss –@MarvelousIdeas

Todd Grossman –@toddgrossman

David Polinchock – @polinchock; http://blog.polinchock.com

Click here to view Todd Grossman’s presentation

Click here to view Jeanine Moss’s presentation

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