No matter how much advice and advocacy emerges in the world of digital marketing, about the value of content creation, the same issue seems to crop up. Many of the people I speak to - especially those with a small business to run - find it difficult to generate the sparks of creativity they perceive are required, in order to compile a valuable piece of content, be it blog post, podcast, video, or even a Tweet(!), that help place themselves in the seat of "thought leader" in their industry. No matter what your views on the sheer number of so-called thought leaders can or should exist in a specific industry or niche, it strikes me as an unrealistic and high-pressure goal to attain for anyone whose many other hats are already weighing them down.
The good news is that you don't have to be a thought leader to make a difference. Forget, for the time-being, penning the opinions and commentary that will put you at the top; instead focusing on putting yourself in front of the very audience that you wish to make the connection with. Being a "thought provider" is better than no thought at all! The many benefits that go with content creation - not least discoverability - should be enough to pull anyone out of their silent slump, and have any ambitious entrepreneur or business owner attracting new waves of interest and connections.
The good news about being a thought provider is that you don't even have to have the original ideas, but merely add your own spin/comment to the emerging stories in your industry - the earlier, the better! Try out some popular content curation tool, which help to bring the news to you, in near-realtime:
Add you favourite industry blog and news site feeds to Google Reader, and have an inbox-style view of the latest posts in your niche. See what trends are emerging - the topics occurring most often are those that are likely to have some traction or established awareness within your chosen sector - and choose your medium for passing the message on (be it your blog, YouTube channel, or just a lowly Tweet).
Get the scoop on the posts and stories being tagged and shared most often within your networks, or by industry keyword. Again, select the stories that interrupt your own awareness, and which you think will resonate best with your own target audience. Don't forget the power of keywords in your content, and use tools like Google's Adwords Keyword Tool, to prove the levels of search for specific terms - that way you can target and meet the greatest demand.
With a little help from others, and the power of curation as a means to fuel content, you too can be a thought provider. Thought leadership's overrated anyway!