Thought leaders must regularly develop their expertise in a variety of arenas. What skills would you like to develop in the coming year? 

Improve Your Ability to Tell Stories & Present Your Ideas

• Start a blog –
• For more on the benefits of blogging and tips on how to get started - 11 Reasons You Should Start Your Own Blog
• Start or join a writing group -
• Join Toastmasters –  to hone your speaking skills
• Take an improv class - to improve your spontaneity and presence
• Learn storytelling - or
• Attend a National Speaker’s Association Event - there are also local chapters in many major cities
• Watch Prezis of interesting thought leaders -
• Learn Prezi – and create a presentation about your thought leadership ideas
• Explore Canva - use one of their templates to better present your ideas
• Find lots of great resources here: Public Speaking: An Online Resource Guide
• Another page with great resources: The #PreziTop100 Online Resources Every Presenter Should See
• Develop a 3-minute talk on a topic you care about and videotape yourself presenting it. (Need a video tool? Try Animoto or Camtasia.)  Replay the tape and give yourself a fair critique. What did you do well? What could you improve?
• Want to improve your video? Watch this great 2 minute video on How to Look Good on a Webcam.

Nurture Your Innovation & Change Orientation Skills

• Trying to sort out what to do first and build your efforts for success? Try this updated resource and rethink of the basic SWOT analysis from Justin Gomer and Jackson Hille
• Read Creativity in Business by Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers
• Read innovation newsletters like Springwise or Iconoculture. 
• Host a strategic conversation about the change needed in your organization. Learn how by reading Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change by Lisa Kay Solomon.
• Identify something big that needs improving at work and create a strategy to fix it
• Engage others in making a change in your community or volunteer for a campaign already underway.
• Start a meditation practice to give yourself quiet time to rest your mind. Try this cool meditation app, or learn how to mediate with this helpful article.
• Stay up to date with topics in your industry by setting up a Google alert  to notify you when articles are posted.
• Play Innovation Games

Build Your Leadership Skills & Credentials

  • Ask someone to nominate you for an award – like the San Jose Business Times Women of Influence Award or the Crain's 40 Under 40 Award.  Provide them with your bio and the key supporting information for the nomination to assure they put the best case forward.
  • Get listed as an expert in your field in this handy Women Also Know Stuff database or on the ExpertFile website.
  • Take part in the Leadership California program or the equivalent program in your area.
  • Apply for a fellowship in your field of study.
  • Take an online Masterclass with an expert. I love the classes from Bob Woodward and Malcolm Gladwell but there are many topics to choose from.
  • Before seeking another credential or degree, be sure that it is really necessary to what you want to achieve.

•   Take a free online business course with Academic Earth or LinkedIn.
•   Read blogs related to your field so you stay up to date on what’s happening – Try Alltop to find the top blogs by topic area.
•   Step forward to lead a strategically important initiative in your organization or community.
•   Join a non-profit board.
•   Write an article for your company or industry newsletter that showcases your expertise.
•   Create a personal web page. Try, SquareSpace or Wordpress for easy site set-up, or check out the following blogs by Maggie Aland and Robert Mening who provide comprehensive lists and reviews of popular website builders.
•   Watch the Center for Creative Leadership webinar on Creating a Compelling Vision.  

Expand Your Network

• Join the board of a trade association or non-profit in your niche.
• Before attending your next networking event, develop your “Brag points” – see Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus.
• Update your LinkedIn page so others can learn about you.
• Sign up for a weekly update of events in your niche (check and attend a few every month.
• Host a teleseminar or webinar on a topic you are an expert in and invite others to attend. Try a tool like GoToWebinar or Zoom to host your webinar.
• Start a monthly breakfast group with others you want to meet.
• Use Newsle to stay informed about people in your network.

Build Followers for Your Ideas

• Start Tweeting – share resources, links, ideas (not what you had for breakfast). Re-tweet others and follow key influencers in your niche.
• Use Hootsuite social media dashboard to monitor your followers. 
• Read New Relationship Marketing: How To Build A Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using The Social Web by Mari Smith or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing by Jennifer Abernathy
• Read Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki for excellent ideas in how to enroll and enchant people.
• Get training in writing an Op Ed -
• Write an article for a specialized publication in your field.
• Guest blog on a popular blog – Try Alltop to find the top blogs by topic area.
• Reach out to a podcast host in your subject matter to see if you can be a guest. Here is the iTunes list of popular podcasts.
• Start an e-newsletter and send it to people in your industry/niche. Use an email marketing tool like iContact, MailChimp or Constant Contact.
• Convene a group of people with the same title/job across your industry for quarterly calls or meetings.
• Speak on a panel at a leadership conference.
• Comment on the blog(s) of others who are thought leaders in your niche, industry, organization.

Improve Your Strategy-Setting & Visioning Skills

Begin to Develop Your Platform

• Search SlideShare to see what other experts in your niche have created to support their platform. 
• Find thought leaders in your niche through LinkedIn Influencers and follow their activities. 
• Build your professional influencer profile at or Klout.

Use These Tools to Track Your Progress

 • Determine your Klout Score and work to improve it.
• Monitor your brand online with Brand Yourself.
• Check out your social graph with the ‘super-actionable visualizations’ at Followerwonk.! helps you share your ideas with the right audiences so you increase your visibility online.
• Try Meet Edgar, Hootsuite or ViralTag -- great tools that let you customize your social media content, easily schedule it and track your impact.


In a career transition? Here is a page of career resources for you.

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To find lots more great resources, inspiration and case studies of thought leaders, as well as a step-by-step process to accelerate your own thought leadership journey, get a copy of my book.

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