By Katie Kenneally

Originally published by Linkedin Pulse.

As businesses operate in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive environment, it’s no simple feat to differentiate your brand and retain the attention of your target audience. Being a passive participant is no longer enough. Only by leading conversations that matter are you able to be heard over all the noise.

Establishing yourself as a thought leader can successfully elevate your brand’s profile by positioning it as the authority in the industry. By demonstrating expertise and engaging with an online and offline community, it can be an effective strategy for gaining credibility.

How To Establish Your Brand as a Thought Leader

While there are many ways to execute a thought leadership program, you must tailor yours to address the goals of your organization by assessing where you are, where you want to go and the obstacles standing in your way. Here are a few tactics that can be adapted to nearly any brand worthy of recognition as a thought leader

Refine Your Message

Gaining credibility as a trusted source in your industry is achieved through distributing great content that is timely, relevant, and answers the questions your audience is asking. A strong core message that defines your mission is key to content creation. Develop high level messaging that tells your brand’s story in a clear and compelling way.

Make Connections

Extend your positioning into key communications channels by creating unique conversations and relationships, and connecting and building your audiences into communities. Establish partnerships with stakeholder groups in your sector and grow your network by fostering strategic relationships—both online and off.

Identify Opportunities

Demonstrate your knowledge by keeping up to date on developments in your field. Follow the media and drive conversations by weighing in on current events affecting your industry. Do this by developing and promoting compelling thought leadership materials across your network:

  • Write a guest column for your local or trade press on a current event

  • Develop white papers to validate your proficiency on a topic

  • Produce short (1-2 min) video clips to promote your products or services

  • Start a blog and post content regularly

  • Ask influencers in your field to contribute content to your blog and share it across their social channels

  • Acquire third party endorsements and written or recorded testimonials

  • Give speeches on high profile issues at industry events

Build an Online Community

Social media is key to any thought leadership strategy. Keep your social media accounts active and post relevant content on a regular basis. Engage with well-known influencers in your field by sharing and commenting on their content, and participate in Twitter chats and Facebook conversations centered on related topics.

Promote Your Vision

The most important thing to remember about thought leadership is that anyone with a vision and enough motivation can position themself or their brand as a leading authority in that field. Equally as important is the fact that thought leadership is not about selling a product or service. It is first and foremost about selling yourself as an expert and elevating your brand. Once you have gained that credibility in your field, lead generation and sales opportunities will follow.