Let me also start off by thanking Dan for the opportunity to participate in the Personal Branding Blog. I’ll be posting on Wednesdays and thought I might focus initially on one path I know very well and that path is – how to create a personal brand by becoming a thought leader.

People don’t buy “run of the mill” anything anymore!

I work in a professional services firm and in order for firms like ours to differentiate themselves they have to create perhaps hundreds of personal brands around individuals who understand niche topics extremely well. And since buyers have transparency through the use of search engines they can really get a handle on just how qualified any individual in an organization is to perform a given service for them.

Elise Bauer once wrote in an article on thought leadership.

A distinguishing characteristic of a Thought Leader is “the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.”

Think about it, if you or a loved one was going to have heart surgery in New York, don’t you think you would Google “Heart Surgeon New York” and want the heart surgeon who is the most widely known in the field? Same applies in consulting because people just don’t buy run of the mill consultants anymore.

5 Steps to becoming the Thought Leader?

  1. Start by defining a clear objective – Most thought leaders become thought leaders because they have a desire to educate the folks that follow them.
  2. Pick your spot – There are always just a few thought leaders in every industry and/or field of study so pick a spot that you can differentiate yourself with.
  3. Find your voice – We can’t all be Hemingway. Don’t try to write like someone else, find your own voice and don’t try to change your demeanor.
  4. Don’t try too hard – Thought leaders genuinely influence others by creating, advancing and sharing their ideas. Thought leadership is not what you say or write. It is a state of being. Use your content as your attraction vehicle.
  5. Lather Rinse Repeat – you can’t just write one blog post and call yourself a thought leader – it comes with persistence, it comes with passion about a particular topic and it comes with dedication to continue to publish and publish often.

The impact of a Thought Leaders can be felt in the way they catalyze others to do business. Take Michael Hammers 1990 work thought leadership on business reengieering – it changed every industry – now that’s the effect of becoming a thought leader and created a lasting brand for Michael Hammer!


Paul Dunay is the Global Director of Integrated Marketing for BearingPoint a Management and Technology Consulting firm and author of the blog Buzz Marketing for Technology.