How To Start & Grow Your Business

Thought Leadership: 5 Ways to Prove You Know Your Stuff

Joanne Black
Jan 19th, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 3 min read
  • Hummy's

    1Look for opportunities to gain public recognition. 2"Become known as the go-to person for your topic. " 3Leadership means stating opinions that may create conflict.
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Marketing-Little Blond Girl Reads Book Photo Credit: Melpomene

Our clients don’t just buy our products and services. They also buy our expertise. They want to work with the best of the best—salespeople who know their stuff, ask the right questions, and deliver tailor-made solutions that get them the ROI they deserve.

Many of your clients don’t get out of their corner offices very often. While they have their heads buried in their work, you’re out there talking to people—at different companies and across multiple industries—learning best practices and hearing stories about what is working and what isn’t.

That’s what clients want from you—the value of your experience and expertise. Think about it as if you were the buyer. Would you prefer to work with someone who only knows the ins and outs of what he’s selling? Or would you be more likely to choose an expert—someone who sees the big picture and can help you get a leg up on your competition?

Social Media: Your Chance to Shine

Social media has provided a new outlet to showcase your expertise—and your passion. Brick and mortar establishments are about location, location, location. The cyber-world is about content, content, content. When you provide consistent, relevant, helpful content, and answer questions on your area of expertise, you quickly become known as the go-to person for your topic.

Buyers will gravitate to you. You will be the expert everyone turns to for advice (and yes, to spend some money). After all, you’re not just a salesperson; you’re a thought leader.

5 Ways to Prove You’re an Expert

Thought leadership is not that complicated. But it’s not easy either. Like anything worth doing, it requires focus, confidence, and courage.

Here’s what it takes:

  • Have passion for your message. Find your niche, do your homework, and start sharing your great ideas and insights. Engage in conversations (online and off). Look for opportunities to be interviewed by the media, contribute articles, and become recognized as an authority.
  • Don’t monetize. Make whatever investments you can to get your perspective known, but don’t expect a financial return. Thought leaders don’t monetize; they provide valuable content for no other reason than to share great information and gain exposure.
  • Make some noise. You’re the expert, so let your point of view be known—even if it’s outside the traditional school of thought. It’s OK to create conflict. Not everyone will agree with you, but that’s not the point. The goal is to get people thinking and talking about what you have to say.
  • Don’t sell. Share content that’s helpful, enlightening, and informative—not a thinly-veiled sales pitch. If you want people to trust your information, you must be genuine, confident, and approachable.
  • Stay relevant. Continue to share your knowledge and stay current on industry news, as well as what other experts have to say. Share relevant information from other sources that piques the interest of your audience.
  • Knowledge is power. Your position gives you unique, valuable insights. And sharing those insights is your competitive advantage.

This article was written by Joanne Black and published on the Salesforce blog.

Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time.

She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal.

To learn more, visit You can also follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.

With 100,000+ customers, is the enterprise cloud computing company that is leading the shift to the socially connected businesses.