It shouldn’t be surprising that more and more millennial entrepreneurs are pursuing thought leadership today. A whopping 40 percent of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine or YouTube.
Influencer marketing content delivers 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. With so much trust (and in return, revenue) put into today’s millennial influencers, it’s clear why Gen-Y entrepreneurs are positioning themselves as the new “it” business people.
For those entrepreneurs who are just getting started in the world of thought leadership, here are the five greatest tips for scaling your influence and turning your name into a legacy.
1. Just choose one or two channels to concentrate on.
One of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make is trying to be everywhere at once. With young influencers making their mark on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Periscope, it often gives the false impression that in order to get visibility, you need to be on every channel. This is an easy recipe for burn-out, low-quality work and content marketing resentment.
Instead of burying yourself, choose one or two public platforms where you can focus on growing your community. While having an email list is extremely important, it isn’t visible for those who might want to partner with you, feature you, or give you more exposure. Identify where your target audience is on social media and create a strategy for developing your following there.
The two main channels where there has been a lot of success for the millennials are Instagram and Facebook. Many millennials are working on making and growing Facebook groups such as, Millennial Go-Getters. Having substantial communities on these two platforms can help in a variety of ways. You will find that whenever a company wants to partner with you as an influencer, a new coaching client wants to hire you, or a new publication wants to feature you, it will almost always be because they saw the power of your public following. There is strength in numbers, and when it’s clear that people value what you have to say, it immediately shifts their perception of you.
2. Develop your influence locally.
With so much competition for attention online today, it’s easy to write off the possibility of thought leadership as an unrealistic goal. But consider this: Instead of trying to become the next Amy Porterfield or Russell Brunson, carve out your local niche and grow from there. Having a small, local following is much easier to accomplish and is a perfect stepping stone before jumping to the next level.
When begriming my journey as an entrepreneur, I focused on developing my name as a marketing consultant in Tel Aviv. LA or London didn’t need to know my name — all that mattered was a local niche and a sustainable business locally. Tel Aviv is relatively a small city. You can build a 6-figure business simply from having a full client list within the local startup community. Small does not mean unsuccessful.
3. Interview thought leaders.
Interviewing thought leaders is one of the most beneficial yet underrated tactics in the book. Not only does it help you learn as an emerging influencer yourself, but it allows you to gain visibility in front of their audiences and start new conversations with relevant industry players.
An interview is also a great starting point for a relationship that can bloom into partnerships, collaborations, mentorships, and more. Yet simultaneously, it’s also one of the most casual and flattering proposals you can ask of an influencer. This also reduces any awkwardness or pressure to participate. The next question is obvious: How do you get a hold of people like Tai Lopez and Gary Vaynerchuk to interview? The answer is that you don’t. Instead, identify thought leaders who still have prominent followings but are still accessible to the media and their fans.
The secret is to find thought leaders with a few less gatekeepers and one whom you might have six degrees or less of separation with. Achieve that and it’s easy to use tools like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook to get a hold of them one-on-one and make the intro.
4. Try to get live speaking events.
Don’t feel pressured to suddenly speak at international events attended by thousands of individuals. Instead, identify local entrepreneur-oriented events that you think you could add value to as a thought leader.
You could even organize your own local meetup event or speaker series. Regardless, being a speaker immediately positions you as an expert and gives others the opportunity to see you as someone to learn from. A great place to also reach out to is local co-working spaces. Organizations like WeWork are constantly hosting events highlighting local thought leaders and their expertise. When looking for your first speaking opportunities, start local and grow from there. This will allow you to develop your speaking skills in front of smaller audiences and gradually get better as bigger opportunities come along.
5. Get the right coach in your corner.
The best way to strengthen your skills as a thought leader is to hang out with other thought leaders. Getting a deeper understanding of their approaches to business, mindset practices, and confidence give you the tools you need to adopt those traits as well.
It’s also extremely comforting to have someone on your team who you can trust with guidance, support, and feedback on every step of your journey to becoming a thought leader. Nothing great can ever be achieved alone, so having someone who’s just a few steps ahead of you to help you on your journey is a priceless asset.
Today, with so many available tools to connect with others online, developing a following and positioning yourself as a thought leader can happen relatively quickly. These five strategies are the perfect place to start.