16 Ways Rookie Founders Can Prove Themselves and Their Brands

Discussion Meeting

What is a quick way a young founder can demonstrate his or her thought leadership, despite not having veteran status in their industry?

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Become a True Expert on a Small Subject

“As a young leader, it is hard to say you know everything. You can, however, become a true expert in something very specific and then share your knowledge of that topic through writing and public speaking. If you show you are an expert in one specific thing, people tend to think you are an expert at lots of things.”

Murray Newlands, Due.com

2. Take Every Opportunity to Share Your Passion

“Speak at an event, create authoritative white papers, write in-depth blog posts, share your thoughts on social media or write a book for self-publishing on Amazon. Create one piece of authoritative content that can be reformatted for all of these different channels. Your presentation can be turned into a white paper, which can be turned into four blog posts, which can be turned into 40 social posts.”

Kevin Getch, Webfor

3. Be Willing to Share Details About Your Company

“The best presentations for me are those that share specific details about the tactical successes and failures of other companies. If you don’t have a big name, it might be too early to hit TED with a high-level topic — “The Future of Capitalism” or some such example. Think instead about sharing the specifics you learned while getting your business off the ground. Hint: Universities are a great place to start.”

John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation

4. Publish a Book

“Even if only publishing electronically, being recognized as an author on a relevant topic is huge. It adds instant credibility. How often do you hear people being introduced as “John Smith, author of ______”? Doesn’t it add an allure of wisdom? Today with ghost writers, e-publishing and online distribution, it’s never been easier, cheaper or quicker to be a published author. ”

Nicolas GremionFree-eBooks.net

5. Use Meddle.it

“You don’t have to create original content, but you can demonstrate original thought by curating your comments on the web with a tool like Meddle.it. Meddle allows you to comment, share and curate your comments on the things you read on the web. You can actually highlight any part of what you are reading and comment on it. You don’t have to wait until the end of the article.”

Mike Ambassador Bruny, No More Reasonable Doubt

6. Offer Tips, Perspective and Guidance

“Being a thought leader isn’t just about sharing what you know — it’s about helping people apply your insights, knowledge and practical experience to their own circumstances. Find or create opportunities to offer your unique intel and advice to targeted audiences of stakeholders who will not only appreciate it, but will actually utilize it. Doing so will help you earn their respect.”

Heather Schwarz-Lopes, EarlyShares

7. Don’t Be Intimidated

“Oftentimes, young talent can fear the experience of industry veterans. The reality is, as someone new to your business, you’re likely to bring your own fresh, progressive ideas, and have knowledge that veterans lack due to their inability to keep up with burgeoning technologies and new developments. Leverage those ideas; be confident, yet humble, and communicate thoughtfully.”

Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker

8. Don’t Be Afraid of Looking Like a Beginner

“Our team members share blog posts from all different levels of experience. Sharing the story about how you just learned something new from a beginner’s perspective can be just as appealing to some audiences as an expert-level post. Be honest, open and authentic, and your insights will be valued.”

Elisa Miller-Out, Singlebrook

9. Get to Know the Veterans of Your Industry

“Get to know the veterans in your industry; be able to quote them by name and what they’ve done. Your observation of the people who have made your industry what it is today will impress the harshest of critics. Furthermore, you can point out where the flaws are in the current system and how to solve them using outside examples.”

Zoe Barry, ZappRx

10. Understand Jargon But Use It Sparingly

“Every business has key phrases or abbreviations that you have to know in order to seem like an expert. But that doesn’t mean you should use these all the time. Make sure you talk about your success in clear, straightforward language. You’ll be respected as a thought leader when you can show that your ideas and hard work produce success — not by throwing around what you think are the right words.”

Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

11. Create a Blog and Promote It on Social Media

“The best way for a young founder to demonstrate thought leadership is to create a blog. Be sure to also focus on building up your social audience on Twitter and Facebook, so that you can push your blog articles to a large and relevant audience. To add fuel to the fire, consider hiring a PR team to help get you and your company get featured in media outlets.”

Jordan FliegelCoachUp, Inc.

12. Lay It on the Line Every Day

“You don’t know everything, and that’s OK. You have to talk about what you know and what you can do. Don’t try to imitate someone; just work on developing your own recipe for success. Say what you need to say, and if you don’t know something, look it up or ask for help. Above all, don’t forget that actions speak louder than words — let your success speak for itself.   – Alfredo AtanacioUassist.ME

13. Podcasts

Go on podcasts, especially podcasts in your industry. Podcasters are constantly on the hunt for compelling guests, and everyone likes an underdog. So if you’ve got a great story to tell, you can do so via podcasts. You’ll be surprised how many influencers listen to podcasts, and you’ll be able to cite them as proof points of why you’re a thought leader.”

Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

14. Host a VIP Dinner

“Host an intimate dinner for your most VIP contacts and you immediately put yourself at, or even above, their level. You are the company that you keep, and having dinner with a handful of people you respect will both demonstrate your own thought leadership and will give you ideas to expand on your knowledge.”

Christopher Kelly, Convene

15. Rule the Comment Section

“A close second to having an article published is commenting on industry articles. By leaving a well-thought comment on an article, you can get visibility and open up valuable conversations. This is a free way to get your name out there and start building your personal brand.”

Mike SeimanCPXi

16. Join a Club

“There are thousands of groups and communities out there for every business field imaginable. These allow you to voice your opinion in a tight-knit group of like-minded experts, and your thoughts will be well-respected and listened to. Plus, it will allow you to network with and learn from the veterans in your industry.”

Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital