Everyone has a platform of specialized skills, expertise, and knowledge. But most don't know how to develop it to promote their leadership branded value and expertise. Let’s break down that broad definition to four major categories:
Who knows you? Who knows your work or accomplishments? How do you communicate to others outside of your immediate job what it is you do or you’ve done? How many people are aware of it? How does your visibility get distributed? What communities (online, professional associations, etc.) are you a member of? Basically, where do you make waves?
How solid is your credibility? What are your credentials? (it’s not about how many you have but whether you have the right ones for the right field of work).
Don’t say you are an “influencer”; that's a label others give you when you can show where your work has made an impact and provided demonstrable proof of that impact (quantitative measures such as $$ or % really help out here). You EARN that moniker; you don't claim it yourself. Your leadership influence stands on a foundation of proven, quantified accomplishments.
Oh, and please don’t use the term, “thought leader.” It’s such a cliché in marketing and there’s no way to demonstrate how many thoughts you’ve led. The idea behind thought leader is more like
Are you most visible to the most appropriate targeted audience? In other words, is your work helping to build your brand within the circles where you already have visibility?
Building your platform is all about putting in a consistent effort from one year to the next–not by calling attention to yourself, but by extending your network of people who are drawn to your brand (your expertise, your personal values, and your professional reputation). It’s building the platform to a point when it starts speaking for who you are (personal values), what you do (expertise), and how you do it (reputation).
Platform building is synonymous with creating and promoting your professional brand, and is an organic process that evolves over time and with circumstances. Awhile back, I read a great article on how book authors create their platforms, and the advice applies well here:
Your platform should be as much of a creative exercise and project as the work you produce. While platform gives you power to market effectively, it’s not something you develop by posting “Follow Me!” on Twitter or “Like Me!” on Facebook a few times a week.
How are you building your platform? What’s in your toolbox?