A few years ago LinkedIn was predominately a platform used by job-seekers to find employment and employers to head hunt talent. Fast forward to the age of social media, LinkedIn now provides their users a medium to write thought leadership pieces distributed among their network. Gauging its epic rise in popularity, marketers are now using this opportunity to build their brand reputation through engaging thought leadership posts on LinkedIn.

If you log into LinkedIn at any given time, it won’t just be Richard Branson posting his views on leadership but majority of your network would be sharing their professional experiences through their posts. Why does thought leadership matter and why are so many people joining this content creation brigade? The simple answer; being a thought leader in your field of expertise builds your personal brand and helps your business gain visibility and most of all credibility.

Here is how you can get started:

Have a well thought out strategy

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Before you begin, always have an end goal in mind. What is it that you would like to achieve through your thought leadership posts? Creating your own brand, gaining credibility/visibility for your business or both? This step is imperative as it helps shape up the kind of content you should be producing. Once you have your end goal in mind, the next step is to have a well thought out strategy. This helps in streamlining your content and avoids random posting. To build your brand or your business’s brand, you need to make sure the content you are producing is relevant. For example, if you want to showcase your expertise in the field of HR and your posts either talk about the latest restaurant you visited or interest rates on savings, your thought leadership expedition is heading towards disaster. Your readers and followers will have no clue what you are trying to achieve through your posts and end up not reading your content pieces at all.

Hence it is imperative not to stray too far away from your area of expertise and really think about the content before producing it. The content should not only be a way of showcasing the trends in your field but also a means of using your experience to help others who are either in the same work sphere or thinking about pursuing it as a career.

Create interesting content

Content which is interesting always catches the eye of readers and makes them want to come back and read more. Present your content in such a way that attracts an array of followers. There has to be a reason why Richard Branson is the most influential person on LinkedIn with over 9 million followers. He take his work experiences and turns them into lessons for other entrepreneurs. He consistently packages his experience in different ways to keep the interest of readers alive. Sometimes being straightforward while disseminating important work life balance tips and sometimes sharing the methods he used to perfect his tennis that could be applied to business as well. Perhaps, the most interesting of them all is discussing his failures and how he rose up from them to build an empire. It is letting go of inhibitions and sharing your mistakes with the world that helps to build your persona and makes you more real to your followers. But the key here is tell your story and avoid self promotion.

Similarly, if you look at the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner’s posts, they not only talk about his experiences but about the LinkedIn brand as well. He writes about how you can retain superstar talent, finding talent in unlikely places and announcements about LinkedIn as well. That way he not only is building his personal brand but using his posts to create awareness about LinkedIn and the field of HR.

As a starting point, it’s a good idea to read through the posts of such influencers and gain some insights from them to create interesting content.

Be regular

Becoming a thought leader will not happen overnight. It requires time and consistency. Your posts need to be regular to keep the interest of your followers alive. Posting regularly also leads to an increase in followers. As a start you should be posting valuable content at least once a week. Being regular also expresses interest on your behalf, that you are serious in becoming a thought leader. Plus it is an effective way of increasing visibility at no cost.

Be original

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What works for others might not necessarily work for you. Hence, be original. The content you produce should be wholly your own without any plagiarism. And if you do take quotes or information from elsewhere be sure to add in the required credits. Similarly, develop your own style and tone of writing, do not copy someone else’s just because it works.Expressing yourself in your own way will have far more positive effects in the long run versus copy and pasting.

Share on social media

To get the most views for your article, it’s imperative to share on social media. As a start, join groups on Linkedin that are related to your industry and post your article there. That will also help in starting of a discussion with fellow group members and help you share your knowledge. If you would like to target specific followers or other influencers you can share via the Linkedin Email Alert as well.

For a broader audience it is a good idea to share on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Knowledgeable commentary

There might be weeks that you are super busy and do not have the time to create original content. Use those days to post industry relevant content from around the web with your own thoughts about the articles you post. Any commentary that you add must be backed up by solid reasoning. That is what is going to show how knowledgeable you are about the particular industry and why your thoughts on the subject matter.

Such posts also become a forum for discussion, where your followers can add to your commentary. Responding to those comments helps create an interaction that can further cement your position as a thought leader.

The idea is simple: create engaging content by sharing your work and life experiences. Not only does it help build your brand but also increases your visibility and in turn becomes an opportunity for free PR. To succeed, just channel your own voice into your posts.