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Become a Guru: Be a Thought Leader in Your Field

Whether you’re a brand, small business, or an individual, establishing thought leadership in your industry is critical to your success in content marketing. But I’ve seen some people hesitate when describing themselves as a thought leader. The truth is: we’re all experts in something.

So, what does it mean to be an authority on a topic? A subject matter expert? A guru? Let’s look at some commonly accepted definitions of these terms:

guru teacher expertGuru: teacher, leader, a leading authority

Expert: A person with exceptional skill or knowledge in the field

Authority: an expert

Master: A person with exceptional skill in a certain thing; a person qualified to teach

These are high standards, aren’t they? Perhaps, but we have to remember that they’re imbued with a certain set of expectations that are sometimes just a bit over the top. For example, when I hear the word “guru,” I usually think of that wizened old man at the top of the mountain, who knows with absolute certainty what is the truth.

The Internet is full of gurus, though. Is it possible for each and every one to be as all-knowing as the guru on the mountain? Of course not. Like most of us, they’re still learning – and they’ll always be learning – new things in the area in which they’re experts. What they do have is a preponderance of knowledge in their specific field that they’re willing to share.

So if you’re having doubts about whether or not you too can be a guru, have no fear.

If you’ve been running a small business or following an interest or a passion for some time, then you’ve probably accumulated knowledge that others would find useful to learn.

Think about it: How many formal classes have you taken? Do you have a degree in your field? How many clients have you worked with? How many new scenarios have you faced? How many problems have you solved? How many industry, trade journals or blogs do you read?

Chances are, you’ve mastered your field of expertise, and you’re uniquely qualified to teach others how to be successful.

And that’s what a guru really is: a teacher. It doesn’t mean that you must know everything, or to be that expert or that guru on the mountain who knows all. You just have to know more than those who want to learn.

That may seem like a trite concept but that’s really what’s playing out on the Internet right now. Many people were sharing their expertise through blogs, videos and online courses.

Here are five steps to becoming a guru in your field.

Be confident. You know more than you give yourself credit for. And you certainly know more than your clients (that’s why they hire you) or the people who are just getting started in your field.

Don’t stop learning. Many of us believe that we must know “all” before we can teach. But if gurus waited until they learned all they could learn, there would be no teachers.  The experts are constantly educating themselves about changing developments in their field, and they learn new things all the time. Does this sound familiar?

Share your knowledge. Blog about it, create a video series or an online course. Your authority increases with the amount of knowledge you share.

Share what others are saying. Don’t keep what you’re reading and watching to yourself. Share it in social networks and offer commentary.

Connect with other gurus. Reach out to influential experts in your field and make those connections public. By building your network, you’re also building your reputation.

Continuously sharing your knowledge with a ever-widening range of people can draw huge benefits. You’ll connect with new clients and partners, your fellow experts will ask your assistance with problems, and the media will seek commentary on breaking news. Not bad, guru.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

Albert Einstein

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

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