How to become a thought leader without writing one original word

When business people think about thought leadership, many picture the classic whitepaper, dense with insights and commentary, culled from the leading experts within the organization. They believe the goal of a thought leadership program is to demonstrate or develop the organization’s credibility and leadership in a specific subject matter area. What’s often missing, though, is the recognition that for a thought leadership program to be effective, it must not only demonstrate the organization’s brilliance, but it also must offer content that its market deems valuable. Content that makes the organization look brilliant but doesn’t fix any client/prospect problems or fill key knowledge gaps for them is a poor program. And in this misunderstanding lies an opportunity.

You see, these same business people also often reject the idea of content curation as an important part of an effective thought leadership program. They believe that, by definition, thought leadership must originate within the organization in order to demonstrate its thought leadership/credibility/expertise. But as mentioned above, this narrow view neglects the need to also offer value to the market, and that is where content curation can come into play.

Content curation is, at its simplest, the choiceful selection and/or aggregation of theme or topic-focused third-party content. It doesn’t include original content from the curating organization, which is why it’s often passed over as part of a thought leadership program. And while this is true – curation doesn’t demonstrate the expertise of the curating organization – it still offers value to the market because it helps the market more easily find the information they want. The service of curating valuable information on behalf of clients is itself valuable, and so demonstrates the organization’s leadership, not just in their chosen subject area, but also in helping clients and prospects solve their problems. And ultimately, that should be the goal of any thought leadership program – to help clients and prospects solve their problems or fill their knowledge gaps. If that can be done, whether through curation or original content, then being recognized as a thought leader will be a natural outcome.