Your domain expertise continues to grow as you work with clients to solve problems. Getting your message across to your target audience needs a few other skills. And there are many ways to keep your whole skills portfolio refreshed. You could opt for some formal training. You might also get some feedback from your peers, clients or managers that can point you towards areas that need development. These are both helpful options. Another good option is to use a decent skills-focused website such as our partner, SkillsYouNeed.com.
We dipped into the site to identify the most useful pages for subject matter experts wanting to drive market conversations.
Any personal development journey starts with self-awareness
As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. Self-awareness is essential for any skills development. There is practical help in identifying gaps in your skills, with several self-assessments and quizzes, including one on interpersonal skills. If you don’t know where to start, this might be helpful.
A good thought leader knows their audience
Thought leaders need to know their audience—and that means as people. The first step is to identify who you are writing for, and also who might come across your writing. The second step is to understand them, and especially their emotions and feelings, because these have a huge impact on buying decisions. This requires emotional intelligence, which we have noted before is a key skill for marketers.
They also understand their market, including competitors and peers
Thought leaders also know their market. They understand how their company, and their products or services, fit within a bigger picture. They don’t just know this broadly, but in depth. They can comment knowledgeably on the company’s situation and the wider market. To help you develop the skills to provide yourself with this knowledge, have a look at SkillsYouNeed’s page on carrying out market research to gather competitive intelligence.
Thought leaders are able to think creatively to find new solutions to customers’ problems
Thought leaders therefore know what is happening ‘out there’, and they understand their customers’ pain points. However, they also need to be able to develop new and effective solutions to those problems and pain points, and that means being able to think creatively. As well as information about creative thinking techniques, SkillsYouNeed also has a quiz to help you assess your skills in that area.
Thought leaders have strong written and oral communication skills
From listening through to speaking and writing, you can find everything you need to improve your skills either generally or specifically. You may also find it helpful to explore the section on writing skills. The page on writing for the internet audience is likely to be important if you have to write blogs or social media posts.
In particular, thought leaders are masters of effective story-telling
One particular communication skill that is essential for thought leaders is story-telling. This may sound like a skill for parents, not business leaders. However, we are hard-wired to take in and remember stories. It therefore makes sense to use them to make your points and posts more memorable—but there is an art to when and how to employ stories.
Thought leaders are able to persuade and influence others
Being able to communicate effectively is one thing, but it is quite another to be able to use your communication skills to persuade and influence others. However, thought leaders need to be able to do so. There is a page on persuasion skills, and another on how to develop your skills further, including how to use various models of persuasion.
Finally, thought leaders also need to show leadership
The clue is in the description. Thought leaders need to be able to lead. They may not have to lead teams or groups—but they have to lead their audience. There is a whole section on leadership skills, including information about types of leaders. You can assess your preferences on leadership type using a self-assessment quiz, and get some hints about how to develop further.