Building a Thought Leadership Program During a Pandemic

By Brianne Miller, Senior Counselor

Traditionally, speaking opportunities and panel discussions have always served as cornerstones of any thought leadership program. Participating in a “live” discussion allows the audience to get a better feel for the speaker’s personality – not to mention the ample opportunities for networking before and after the event. How do you build a successful program when face-to-face interactions are severely limited at best?  Here are a few ways to make that virtual, firm handshake still a reality even during a pandemic.

Use the power of the written word

Nothing against the 8th Zoom conference of the day, but sometimes the very idea of another virtual meeting is enough to make eyes roll. Instead, start with bylined articles, blog posts, Medium channels and op-eds. Get your opinion out there in a controlled way and always remember to read the comments for feedback.

Meet one on one

The plethora of conferences and confabs that have popped up like dandelions over the past 15 years has shifted focus from those all-important one-on-one relationships. Just because you can’t have that “power breakfast” or meet up for drinks, it doesn’t mean industry influencers don’t want to hear from you. A simple phone call (remember the phone?) inquiring about someone’s well-being is enough to start a conversation about a subject for which you’re passionate.

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Be consistently social

Yes, social media is a powerful thought leadership tool, but the adage (reach + frequency = impact) still applies. Find the one or two soapboxes that reach your audience. For example, if you’re a supplier to the health care industry, LinkedIn trumps Instagram. Conversely, if you run an art gallery, Instagram is clearly more important than LinkedIn. Create a calendar of content each month and post consistently a few times a week. If there’s news in your industry, post more frequently. The point is that after a while, viewers/followers will expect to hear from you on your chosen subject. Be authentic, be yourself.

How do you stay in touch with industry movers/shakers during the pandemic?  Let me know in the comments – and stay safe!

Related articles:

6 Ways to Be More Authentic on Social Media by Gary Vaynerchuk

How To Stand Out and be a Thought Leader by Stephanie Burnes of ForbesWomen

The 7 Hallmarks of Good Leadership in a Pandemic – Fast Company

Best Web Design Of 2020 (So Far) – And What We Can Learn From It

5 thoughts on “Building a Thought Leadership Program During a Pandemic

  1. These are good reminders that our work doesn’t have to stop just because of a “speed bump” like a pandemic. 🙂

  2. Brianne – great blog post. Joining industry leaders in groups like the Forbes San Francisco Business Council and the San Francisco Business Times Leadership Trust also ensures that you have access to others who can help you – but gives you a platform (both via webinars and the printed page) to share your own thought leadership, too. Cheers, David

  3. If ever there was a time — and need– for MORE thought leadership and forward thinking, this would be it. Thanks for reminding us, Brianne, of the power of the written word and the power it holds.

  4. Excellent advice, Brianne, with your trademark charm (read: candor). It’s SO important to find the right channel for your message. And – most important – thought leadership requires having thoughts to share that are actually in front of your field, not squarely within it. That’s the leadership part – and that’s what makes it compelling.

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