Why You’re Not Going to Be a Thought Leader in 6 Seconds

Dorie Clark, author of “Reinventing You” and her latest book, “Stand Out,” joins the Social Pros Podcast today to discuss standing out in a sea of freelancers by cultivating a following around your unique expertise and experience.

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Full Episode Details

Stand Out or Be Left Out

Dorie Clark‘s latest book, “Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It,” is coming out April 21, 2015. My alternative subtitle for the book would be, “It is the first and only modern guide to creating and merchandising thought leadership.”

If you haven’t already purchased a copy, do yourself a favor and order it now. It’s a clear read that everyone who listens to the Social Pros Podcast will benefit from.

Dorie’s book centers around the fact that we are entering a phase in our economy in which as much as 40% of the American workforce will be freelance contractors by 2020, according to an Intuit study. In this environment, you have to find ways to stand out. 

You don’t have to be a world expert, but if you can point to your expertise in your given community, you have career insurance in an unstable economic climate. “You have to find ways to get people to understand why they should hire you and not somebody else who invariably is going to be cheaper.”

Stand OutDorie has worked hard for a very long time to get to where she is today. A renaissance person, she has always had many interests and wasn’t sure which path to choose. She started college at age 14, finished at 18, and then went on to receive a masters degree in theology. She has been a political reporter, presidential campaign spokesperson, nonprofit executive director, and documentary filmmaker.

In 2006, she launched her marketing strategy consulting business and by 2009 wanted to write a book. She couldn’t get any of her three book proposals off the ground, being told she didn’t have a strong enough following.

So she went back to the drawing board and began blogging in earnest to grow her following. She started writing for The Huffington Post and Harvard Business Review with a “scatter-shot approach,” not really honed in on any specific topic. Her second post for HBR, “How to Reinvent Your Personal Brand” struck a chord. She was asked to expand it into a 2500-word article for the HBR Magazine. Within a week of it publishing, three different literary agents were knocking down her door wanting to talk book proposals. All because the topic and timing were right.

“The only way I was able to discover that was through a process of trying a lot of little, small things and seeing what got traction.”

When Side Project Became Main Business

Now Dorie is a thought leader on being a thought leader. In the beginning, her business was pounding the pavement meeting with clients for her marketing strategy consulting business. Writing blog posts, doing podcast interviews, and everything else surrounding her thought leadership interest was extracurricular. Dorie eventually chose to re-prioritize her time on what started as a side project in order to make bigger gains in the long run.

“I personally had to make a very concerted decision for myself. It was a decision that actually cost me money in the short term. I don’t think there’s any point to glossing that over. It took me a number of years, in fact, to earn as much money again as I used to from doing very intensive, hands-on client work. I had to pull back on that in order to make time to create all this content and try to reposition my business so that I could have more of a national and international presence. Now I’m making more money than I did before, but that process probably took me three or four years to be able to earn back that revenue.”

Thought leadership takes patience and hard work.  For example, Chris Brogan, a very successful marketing consultant, says it took him eight years of blogging to get his first 100 subscribers. We tend to measure success in terms of months instead of years in this digital age. But the underlying success formula really hasn’t changed that much.

“Thought leadership—proving yourself on the basis of your ideas, which is actually the goal for the majority of professionals—that is something that you need time and space to explicate.”

Bonus: As promised in the episode, here is the SlideShare about reliable vs. unreliable reach from my closing keynote speech at the Social Fresh Conference in 2014.

See you next week!

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