Are You the Next Great Thought Leader of Your Industry? The world's next most valuable infuencer might just be you. Here's how to prepare.

By AJ Kumar

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Throughout history, whether during the Industrial Revolution or the Information Age, paradigm shifts gave way to new patterns of thinking and operating.

Today people are just realizing the implications of the cognitive overload of the last 100 years. So much time, energy and resources were spent trying to figure out ways to maximize yield and profit at the same time, at any cost. Yet precious little energy was devoted to empowering individuals outside the corporate structure.

The thought leaders that emerged often strived for productivity, efficiency and, in turn, profits. Think of the massive, multinational, conglomerates that resulted. The focus was on producing more, bigger, better, faster and we succeeded.

Until we didn't.

Related: 6 Characteristics Great Thought Leaders Share

There is radical change afoot. The era of abundant commodities is no more. The paradigm shift that we're experiencing today revolves around the need for sustainability and a greater use of the amazing technologies that people will continue to create but with a greater focus on the individual than at any point in history. The thought leaders who are needed now must encourage these ideals.

What's exciting is that with the advent of the Internet, people are now able to learn about ideas other than those fed to them by the mainstream media. People have a way to communicate with one another and spread knowledge in a truly revolutionary way. The individual is at the center of the power hierarchy.

A single individual can shout out to millions at once, in a fraction of the time it used to take to accomplish the same task.

When thought leaders' messages are presented to large audiences, they are seen by real estate brokers, teachers, shop owners, networkers -- all the people who are well-connected in local communities.

Related: 9 Ways to Become a Woman Influencer

This type of information exchange is happening all over the country and the world right now. Local is now global, and global is local.

For instance, a powerful health blogger like Kimberly Snyder posts a fantastic article about detoxifying the body that's seen by a local yoga teacher. As a part of her desire to educate, the yoga teacher spreads the information to her students, to women, men and families and she then becomes a local brand ambassador who inspires others to infuse more healthy practices into their lives. Those individuals are then able to share, spreading the message across their networks in directions never possible until today.

Or take Josh Flagg, the powerful Realtor on Bravo's Million Dollar Listing. He sends his message to both fans and Realtors alike using TV, social media and blogging. A thought leader like Flagg can single-handedly inspire entire communities of people, who in turn share and the ripple effect is explosive.

The same is true for Internet marketing and communication leaders like Neil Patel. He can make a discovery about increasing traffic on a website, share it via Twitter, Facebook or his blog and ultimately influence hundreds of thousands of people. Those individuals turn around and collectively share the information and influence millions.

Start on a small scale and if you become a local thought leader, with your finger on the pulse of your industry and a genuine authentic vision, your message will spread and business will soon come your way. People will want to work with you versus your being the one having to go out and chase down new leads.

There has never been a better time to become recognized as a thought leader. To grow your reach, work to improve your skills in the following ways:

Related: The 7 Real Reasons You Need to Be an Expert at Something

1. Stay on top of industry news.

The best leaders in industries today arrived there by knowing everything there is to know about what's going on in their field and keeping current even when they reached thought leader status. Knowing about your market will help you formulate plans to become influential and keep you on top.

2. Innovate, innovate, innovate.

One quality that all thought leaders possess is that they have a fresh or different take on their specialty. You can't become a leader if you follow everyone else's ideas. But you can have a real impact by making a difference in an existing market or creating a solution to a new pain point brought on by new technology.

3. Model the behaviors of established thought leaders.

Current thought leaders already have a way of interacting with their followers that reinforces their perceived authority and personal brand within their field. They're authoritative, confident and self-assured -- all characteristics that you can adopt yourself. With a positive mindset, then you can see if you can go beyond what they are doing.

4. Promote your ideas yourself.

The best way to influence a large group of people is to start promoting your ideas yourself now. Start a blog or a Facebook page and create a community to begin testing out your ideas and receiving feedback. Developing an audience is something that every thought leader must master.

Do all this and you'll find that your results and influence are beyond what you previously imagined possible. In fact, the world's next most valuable thought leader just might be you.

Related: The Wonders a Successful Influencer Program Can Work for Your Business

Wavy Line
AJ Kumar

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Digital Maestro

Aj Kumar, the “Digital Maestro,” is the founder of The Limitless Company, a smart content creation engine for your brand. AJ and his team are on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the Creator Economy build for-profit human-healing brands.

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