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Become a Thought Leader: How to Develop an Audience

Hopefully, you have spent some time reviewing Lesson Five and thinking about what makes you stand out. Assuming you have formulated an idea or have established what makes you uniquely qualified to become an authority in your field, the next thing to tackle is how to develop an audience.

Developing an audience is a lot like a music competition.

Do you ever watch talent competitions on television? My husband and I like to watch music talent competitions. You know the shows where thousands of people audition for a few coveted spots on the show. If the contestants make it to the final ten, they have an excellent chance of building an audience of fans who enjoy their music and watching them perform.

I suspect that a lot of these contestants aren’t as concerned about winning as they are of making the right connections and gaining exposure to their music while they can.

They’re not guaranteed instant fame, fortune, and success. Even the winner must start at the bottom, performing at small concert venues and making local appearances at festivals and fairs.

It’s rare that you hear of a winner immediately headlining a show until a few years later…if they’re lucky.

The real value, in my opinion, of competitions like these is the opportunity to develop an audience and to become an influencer.

Most of these contestants will never achieve the level of fame their panel of judges has.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t go on to find their niche and be influential in their own piece of the universe. They have seized an opportunity and have mastered the three key elements of persistence, consistency, and tenacity.

When you’re developing your audience, it’s tempting to want to include as many types of people as you can. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a possible opportunity.

But that’s not the best way.

Focus on your niche audience. Visualize the type of person you want to influence. Narrow down your audience to that specific target.

In the music competition example, country singers won’t appeal to people who like rap music. Opera singers won’t appeal to classic rock fans.

While these people are all musicians, they have narrowed their audience down to the people that want to hear their music style and message.

Narrowing your audience will help to keep your message strong and on target to the people who will most benefit.

There is no single way to develop an audience.

A lot of it has to do with who you are and what you have to offer.

Take the following list and try two or three to start.

Don’t try to accomplish this all at once. If you do, you will most likely become overwhelmed and skip this step all together, and thus, running the risk of falling short of your goal:

  • Network – networking is at the top of the list. Consider joining professional or community organizations to connect with people who may become your fans.
  • Volunteering – volunteering is a great way to meet people who may become your audience; plus, it’s a great way to give back to your community.
  • Become active on LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a social networking tool for any type of professional. It’s a good place to connect with other professionals or with people who may be interested in what you do and what you have to offer.
  • Connect with your colleagues and peers – think about the people you already know in your community, your job, your circle of friends, your book club, the gym, your school, or your place of worship. These people already know you and what your talents are. See if some of your colleagues or peers are willing to make introductions to people they may know who fit your target audience.
  • Write an eBook a good way to become noticed in your field as an expert is to write an eBook and build respect and influence as an author. If you don’t feel that you have the talent to write an eBook, you can hire a ghostwriter on a freelancing platform such as Upwork to do the writing for you. Amazon offers a free self-publishing service for eBooks and paperbacks with Kindle Direct Publishing.
  • Use social media – start meaningful conversations on social media and connect with your target audience there. Facebook is great because you can start a Facebook Group to attract people who have an interest in what you offer. Depending upon your audience, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest can also be beneficial social media channels for making connections and attracting loyal followers.

Need an example?

If you want to be known for your knowledge and experience in training and breeding Labrador Retrievers, you might want to create an Instagram page to attract dog lovers and people interested in this breed.

Likewise, a Pinterest page with boards on a variety of subjects pertaining to Labrador Retrievers would attract people who want to know more about the breed and what you offer.

Using this same example, you could also start a Facebook Group for owners and people interested in the Labrador Retriever breed.

By creating a profile on LinkedIn, you could offer consulting services or even promote your eBook.

And by creating a few short YouTube videos on specific topics related to Labrador Retrievers, you could influence a loyal following of fans who want to tap into your knowledge and expertise.

Now, the best way to determine where you can find your target audience is to spend some time doing research on each of these suggestions on this list.

Look at the types of thought leaders and influencers in each of these areas.

Learn from people who are already successful. The time you spend doing research will help you to become a stronger influencer in your own right.

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Written by

Carol A. Wilcox

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