The 30/30/30 Plan to Becoming a Thought Leader

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about thought leadership, and at this point, I am hoping that two things are becoming clear:

  1. Don’t call yourself a thought leader.
  2. It’s worth it to put energy into becoming one.

Now, recall that a thought leader is an expert contributing an original idea, with authority, in order to advance a particular industry.

This could be an option for many of you.

However, I’ve found that there isn’t a particularly good plan for professionals who already have the basic knowledge of a subject area.

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So, to fill this gap I developed a hypothesis on how you can work towards becoming a thought leader.

I call it, the 30/30/30 Plan.

My Hypothesis on Becoming a Thought Leader: The 30/30/30 Plan

So, the basic premise of the plan is this:

  • Read 30 books.
  • Interview 30 experts.
  • Write 30 blog posts…

…all on your niche topic.

This will help you to go from professional to expert, process all that you are learning about your topic, and create content that will build your authority on social media.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas.

How Reading 30 Books Propells You Towards Becoming a Thought Leader

One of the essential components to our definition of a thought leader is the word “expert.”

You can’t be a thought leader without it and one of the best ways to get there is by reading all the material on your niche topic. This is where the first “30” comes in.

You want to research all the books that have been published in your niche. If there are more than 30, you haven’t narrowed it down enough. Include the popular books, and the small-time kindle ebooks. Once you have that list established, start checking them off.

Now, you may be thinking, “I barely read five books this year…how am I supposed to read thirty?”

The reality is, it is much easier than you think. If you have chosen your books well, there should be a lot of overlap of ideas. Once you’ve read the first few books, it becomes less about reading every word, and more about looking for what makes what this author is offering unique. What are the ideas that they bring to the table? So, you aren’t reading every word from every book. Just figuring out what people have said about this subject.

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This is important and helpful to you for two reasons:

  1. Presenting Unique Ideas: One of the other key components to thought leadership is that you are adding value by sharing your own ideas. However, if you don’t know what everyone else has already brought to the table, you may end up sharing something that isn’t actually new, helpful information. Thus, you aren’t actually completing that goal when it comes to becoming a thought leader.
  2. Sharing on Socials: Sharing what you learned or what you thought of the books you read on socials is a great way to build authority on a subject. It also allows you to learn in the light and present yourself as a student, a topic I discussed more in this post.

It doesn’t have to stop here. You can continue to consume whatever you find in your niche to help grow your expertise. Blog posts, podcasts, and research reports are all great ways to understand what people are talking about in your niche.

And, as I alluded to before, these are great sources of content to share on social media, and also for future blog posts and podcast episodes. More on that to come.

How Holding 30 Expert Interivews Propells You Towards Becoming a Thought Leader

The next step in this 30/30/30 process is to hold interviews with thirty experts in your niche.

Think back to the books you read.

  • Who were the authors?
  • Who did the authors mention as experts or authorities in the field?
  • What topics would you like to understand better?

This is all great fuel for an interview.

Interviews are amazing opportunities to learn and are the perfect opportunity to record a podcast episode. In fact, it’s easier to get people to interview by offering them the opportunity to appear on your podcast. And, as a bonus, people will even begin to attribute expertise to you by association. The expertise of the people you interview will rub off on you, increasing your authority.

Interviews are also a great networking tool as they build relationships between you and the person you are interviewing. This may help you down the line, although the results vary from person to person.

And again, share what you are learning on social media. Build your authority one post at a time.

How Writing 30 Blog Posts Propells You Towards Becoming a Thought Leader

Finally, the last part of the equation: 30 blog posts on your niche topic.

The beauty of writing is it forces you to process information more deeply, and at this point, you should have a lot of information to pull from. However, as you go into this last segment, you don’t just want to write about what you learned. You want a more targeted approach.

Instead, you want to write for Search Engine Optimization. You want to rank on Google. You want to research what people are asking and write the most helpful post on that keyword. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Make it easy to read with in-depth content. Think between 1200-2000 words.

This may even be the time to start throwing in some ideas of your own.

Then pair your post with a podcast episode and you are golden.

Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

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