Four Things Healthcare Leaders Do to Build a Thought Leadership Strategy
By Angela Klinske, Senior Director
As a healthcare leader, you need to decide if you are going to ignore, contribute to or lead the difficult and important conversations happening in your community. First, know that the first option really isn’t an option (we’ll talk about why a little later). Second, while contributing to the conversation is important, leading the conversation is going to require a thoughtful plan.
At Lambert, we represent many leaders, and thought leadership entails more than just sending out an op-ed or byline or posting the occasional pithy comment on social media. It’s about being present, being prepared and being well-practiced on your subject matter. It’s also about knowing who your audience is, what they want to know and how you can deliver that information in a thoughtful, confident and trustworthy way.
Want to set your thought leadership strategy up for success? Follow these four guidelines:
- Find your sweet spot.
Whether you run a neighborhood clinic, a biotech firm or a retail pharmacy, you serve a population, and your health organization likely has a sweet spot or specialty it serves this population. Discovering and developing your sweet spot can be your opportunity to become a thought leader.
How do you know what your sweet spot is? Answer these questions: What gap do you fill? What unique service or product do you offer? What is your value proposition? What knowledge do you have that can help others learn or understand the complexities of healthcare? Answers to these questions can help you identify your sweet spot.
- Know and engage your audience.
Before you speak out, understand who your audience is. And be specific. Is it investors? Patients? Physicians? Where do they need to hear your perspective? How do they engage with the material you can present? Who can benefit from your perspective? Knowing this informs your topic and where to place your message where it will have the highest impact. It’s not enough to know you are speaking to investors about how great your product is. You must engage them in a way that makes them want to talk with you, learn more, appreciate your perspective and advocate for you.
Once you’ve developed your core message and audience, think about where that audience wants to hear your message. You may consider writing an e-book or white paper that your audience can download; host a webinar or present at an event they can attend; engage others on social media through thoughtful conversation, or any combination of these.
- Always be ready.
Timing is everything. It’s up to thought leaders to set a pace for informed conversation and keeping your message’s momentum on track. But ask yourself, is now the time to speak out? Not just based on the topic but for the audience, their appetite for the information and other factors outside of your control.
Make yourself available. This isn’t about pushing out your message but engaging with your audience.
- Never stop learning.
Even as a thought leader, there is always more to learn. Get outside of your echo chamber. Thought leaders can speak to those who stand on all sides of an issue. Thought leadership is a long game. It’s built over time.
Why is thought leadership important?
Thought leaders don’t just have an opinion about their industry. They push the status quo and help the rest of us to think differently. Through strong content and presence, thought leaders position themselves in the public as an authority on a specific topic. It’s not just contributing to the conversation; it’s leading the conversation and becoming the go-to when questions or the need for change arises.
Now more than ever, consumers want to know who they’re doing business with. The community needs a voice, and a source of truth in complex situations. Gone are the days when organizations could just run “business as usual.” You are a brand, with a voice and a responsibility to engage your community.
Checklist for Thought Leadership
- Get a professional head shot taken that reflects your personality, industry and the current times.
- Publish a blog and update it regularly (at least once per week) with thoughtful, relevant content.
- Manage your online reputation by engaging in best practices for social media.
- Bring your A game to interviews, public speaking engagements, writing opportunities, and anywhere else you have the opportunity to engage with key audiences.
- Sign up for media training with professionals who can coach you for both on- and off-camera opportunities.