When not to be a thought leader

How do you know whether or not you should be a follower or a leader? I was working with a reseller recently and suggested he start positioning himself as a thought leader. He had many great ideas that could and would be of use to his customers and I felt he could really build himself as a leader in his industry by creating white papers, setting up a LinkedIn profile and beginning to blog consistently. The look of sheer panic on his face said it all – while he had the “knowledge” that could potentially make him a great thought leader, he may not have the personality for it. I am a firm believer about writing about your knowledge (although I know there are some who feel the marketing industry is beginning to feel a bit saturated with all this “writing.”). However, you can write all you want and be a resource, but if you are not ready, willing, and able to take on the potential consequences that might become of this writing, you should think twice. There is no question that many receive a lift from publishing their thoughts (Seth Godin and Chris Brogan are two that immediately come to mind as thought leaders and gurus in their fields). But it does take time and effort to take your thoughts and put them on paper – and then become the leader behind them. Remember, once you do start to publish and begin to develop a following, your followers are going to want more. If you can’t provide that, your plan might backfire. You lose your followers, your credibility, your customers, and your business. If you want to try your hand at this marketing approach, think it out first. Do you have enough ideas to sustain your followers once you start publishing? Do you have the time to dedicate in order to position yourself as this new leader. Being a though leader is just one way to market your brand and it’s not for everyone. And that’s OK.

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