Many thought leaders find building a content business to be a lonely process. Perhaps they have a few team members—an admin, a ops person, a facilitator or two, or a marketing person. But for the most part, thought leaders aren’t usually surrounded by a team of colleagues.
The business of thought leadership doesn’t need to be lonely. As a thought leader, it’s beneficial to develop a network of other people in the industry that understand the business’s unique problems and can give you helpful advice. There are plenty of other thought leaders out there:
- Peers: Thought-leaders who are going through the same challenges as you;
- Mentors: thought leaders who faced these challenges years ago; and
- Protégés: Emerging thought leaders struggling with concepts you’ve already resolved.
Recently, I was at a get-together of several great thought leaders. It was great to see the collaboration among them, and I could tell they were all excited to share ideas, swap stories, and commiserate.
One of the thought leaders is a successful speaker. She’s working on her first book, and stumbled into a situation where one of the morning shows wanted to interview her—even before she completed the first draft of her manuscript. We connected her with the veteran author; fifteen books over the past thirty years. They found a quiet corner and chatted for a long while.
Meanwhile, an author who just launched his book the previous week was talking about media hits and interviews. He’s in the middle of the whirlwind, and as he’s telling his story, a thought leader whose book has been out for two years started offering some great advice on making the most of the new attention. I was surrounded by thought leaders at different points in the content business lifecycle. Greenhorn enthusiasts and veteran experts alike were sharing ideas, offering encouragement, and telling stories of our experiences.
Why don’t thought leaders share like this more often? Why don’t they just communicate?
If you’re getting into the content business, you need to know about the amazing folks who’ve done it before you. You need to build a professional network of thought leaders, allies, and contacts. Reach out to people who have done it before, and ask for their advice. And don’t just limit yourself to people whose content you admire! Even if you disagree with the specifics of a thought leader’s content, take a look at their business practices. If you’re impressed, drop them a line and ask for a few tips.
People who have served the industry or in the content leadership world for decades have a unique understanding of publishing, book launches, social media, and how to run a content business. For the most part, everyone I’ve met in the content business is only too happy to share their advice and experience.
So, get your network cracking, and start making contacts! You’ll soon discover that you’re a part of a vibrant, interconnected thought leadership world.