A fair bit of work is required to build a professional thought leadership positioning within an industry. But the rewards that come with being an influential public voice can certainly be worth it in terms of the opportunities for business and the impact you can have in the marketplace and community.
I recently interviewed Stephen Waddington, someone I consider to be a genuine thought leader. I use the word ‘genuine’ because, as we know, there is no shortage of people on the web who label themselves ‘thought leaders when, ahem, they’re anything but.
Stephen has been in the PR and digital communications trenches for years.
A highly experienced business advisor and veteran blogger, he is the founder of Wadds Inc., a professional advisory firm which works with agencies and communication teams.
Additionally, he has authored, co-authored or edited several books; he is a Visiting Professor of Practice in Public Relations at Newcastle University, non-executive director of eight companies, and a past president of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the UK. Quite the CV, hey!
Being a credible thought leader, a professional authority in your space, and deriving the benefits that come with that, as Stephen is doing, takes considerable time and effort, not just a snazzy website and a few thousand followers on social media.
Stephen, pictured, jokes that his wife is always taking the ‘mickey’ out of him suggesting that “everything I’ve done to this point forward has been almost a pension that I’ve banked for my future 10 or 20 years”.
I love this concept: that the personal brand you spend years and years building can be seen as a pension – professional superannuation, if you like – that continues to pay dividends as you enter the latter stages of your career.
In Stephen’s case, his reputation and thought leadership positioning in the marketplace provide him with myriad opportunities to further his business and career.
Of course, knowing which path to take is all part of the fun!
Says Stephen: “My challenge is what I do with this, what I do with what I’ve created, whether I build another consultancy, or whether I keep it as Stephen Waddington Inc.”
Having gone down that pathway myself, I understand where Stephen is coming from: Do I build another agency, join an established consultancy, or leverage off the personal brand I’ve built in the marketplace and create a portfolio career of consultant, coach, speaker and content creator – all of which I’m doing currently.
At least Stephen has choices. Many professionals who have not got much in the way of a profile or any professional authority to speak of, should they find themselves out of a job, might not be so lucky.
As for myself, I’ve been evolving in recent times and am doing a lot more coaching and mentoring. This is taking me in a few new directions: WATCH THIS SPACE 😜
(Here’s a link to my interview with Stephen if you’d like to check it out. If you’re at all interested in how to build a reputable, sustainable and professional personal brand, this episode of the podcast will really resonate!)