Marketing and corporate jargon abound! We’ve all been guilty of using “buzzwords” that we might not fully understand in hopes of further confusing the market. Be warned: This article will use two of my least favorite buzzphrases, but it’s for good reason.
“Thought leadership” and “knowledge sharing.” Why do these phrases matter? Why are they important in our day-to-day work lives? What’s more, how can we implement these annoying yet powerful phrases in ways that harness their power for our own regular routines?
This article won’t share any secret sauce—that’s something you’ll have to concoct on your own (besides, I don’t have the recipe). Instead, it will break down the relationship between these two phrases and offer five very general steps to incorporating them in your own schedule on a continuing basis.
Step 1: Accept that Rome wasn’t built in a day
Those architectural marvels of Rome weren’t built in a year; and in most cases, generations of workers had to build upon the foundations laid by the generation of workers before them. In much the same way, we have to be cognizant and up-to-date on the knowledge being shared in our own markets and, thinking critically, build on those thoughts with our own ideas. Read what other people are sharing in the space. Familiarize yourself with whom the key players are (thought leaders) and soak up every word you can. Then think to yourself, “How does this apply to me?”
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Step 2: Participate in internal knowledge dumps
Your next step is to take what you’ve learned and start talking to your colleagues about it. Talk internally about specific points you have about recent readings. Don’t just regurgitate what you’ve read—expound on it, think past the “who, what, when, where” and explore the “how.” This is where knowledge dumps can get really fun. What are the implications of what you read, and how does it change your world? How can you take this newly acquired knowledge and use it to further your own thoughts and ideas?
Step 3: Be an internal champion
Begin to champion the knowledge you’ve acquired as an organization, as well as the great ideas that have stemmed from it. This doesn’t have to be anything super formal. For example: if you or a colleague read a great ebook about the convergence of digital PR and SEO practices, and through extensive lunch room chats or after-work drinks you’ve collectively uncovered how this can change your own world, get others in your organization excited about it! Keep the ball rolling while you invite more people into the conversation. The more people involved, the better.
Step 4: Show it off
Once you have people who are psyched about your ideas, it’s time to put it out there for everyone to see. Sharing your ideas and theories over your acquired knowledge externally with your networks and other thought leaders in the space is an essential piece to the puzzle. Consider it a trial by fire. Not everyone will find your ideas as useful as you may hope, but don’t assume that means you’re wrong. Even in the same market space, some will find specific information more useful than others. And as more and more people weigh in on your thoughts you’ll begin to solidify yourself in the space. It takes guts, but hopefully you and the others in your organization have done the hard work and research to stand behind your ideas when people come asking questions. This leads me to the fifth and final step.
Step 5: Stand by your wo/man
Be ready for people to ask questions and welcome scrutiny. When people ask questions it means you’ve stumbled upon something useful. Some will scrutinize your findings or challenge your assumptions. Welcome it! These things will force you to think about your ideas more in depth which then leads to a more refined outcome, and further down the rabbit hole is a more focused solution.
Then, the process starts all over again: Finding new knowledge, championing good ideas, sharing, and everything else.
Becoming a thought leader in any space takes time, commitment and knowledge. The more you share your knowledge and the things bouncing around in your head the more confident you’ll become in sharing outside of your comfort zone. So the next time you’re at a standstill in your career growth remember: seek out knowledge, ideate and expound on what you find, share it with your colleagues and cohorts and champion the really GOOD ideas, share them externally with the market and be ready to answer the hard questions.