Two terms that are often used interchangeably are Personal Branding and Thought Leadership. Are you a Personal Brand or a Thought Leader? Although the two overlap each other in many ways, their innate meaning couldn’t be any more different.
In recent years, Thought Leadership has become the go-to-approach for many looking to build their own legion of followers not only in the industrial domain, but beyond.
Personal Branding and Thought Leadership
Personal Branding can be defined as how one wants others to perceive their brand. Driving attention towards your brand, increasing sales, building an image are some of the factors guiding this realm. It centrally focuses on working towards your aspirations, your goals and building your empire. Notice how ‘Your’ is the keyword in this context.
Thought Leadership on the other hand, does not focus on ‘I’ or ‘You’ but rather ‘We’. It is a process of not only providing the best services but also educating others with your knowledge. As a Thought Leader, you become the ‘go-to-person’ in your area of expertise. Others follow you not only because of your expertise but also, your shared opinions. They want to be educated by you, shown the right path and assisted in making the right decisions. As a thought leader, your role includes not only instilling in them the right knowledge but also the right attitude. The right attitude that one day will enable them to become leaders in their own right.
The Thought Leadership Blueprint
What makes Thought Leadership stand out is the element of community building. You curate your own community, your own people and in turn, your own brand. As a thought leader, when you shift to another aspect of the market; say from Ed-tech to finance, others will follow you. Along with the trust, another crucial factor that comes into play is credibility. Your opinions need to be precise, concise and more importantly, hold value. A thought leader not only provides others with facts, but rather proven facts. A clear blueprint becomes a necessity that others will take as a formula going forward. It can be in the form of books, courses, modules and research articles. People not only look forward to a leader who paves the way, but also someone that provides them with personal opinions and solutions. Solutions that others can follow to bring a more sustainable change in their environment. Networking through social media is an important tool for establishing yourself as a thought leader. Although social media is concerned with image building much like personal branding, it is a platform to inspire others and creating your own community of followers.
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Building a Legacy
One key differentiator between Personal Branding and Thought Leadership is their end goal. In Personal Branding, the central focus is driving the product (you) whereas a Thought Leader drives the people. Bringing all the attention towards your product is a remarkable feat when talking about Personal Branding. Thought Leadership however, is not only building your brand but others around you. It is not about filling an industrial gap or a loophole, but rather bringing in a change in the status quo. More than a process of brand building, Thought Leadership is about building a legacy.