A thought leader is an expert in their field who is actively engaged in promoting their ideas and sharing their knowledge with others. They are often seen as a change-maker or thought- provoking individual, and their aim is to influence and inspire others. They have a vision of what optometry is supposed to be, not what is dictated by others in the industry.
In order to become a thought leader, it is not enough to simply be an expert in your field. You must also be proactive in sharing your ideas and engaging with others. This can be done through writing articles or blogs, giving talks or presentations, or using social media. In the past thought leaders we ODs that lectured at conferences and had busy practices. With the rise of social media this has changed. Different voices are now able to be amplified. Thought leaders aren’t selected by optometry magazines, pharma boards ,companies or conferences anymore. Thought leaders are created from changing the norm and utilizing the different platforms they have to provide a different perspective. Corporate ODs have been underrepresented in the past. Now is the time to seek opportunity to amplify their voice in the industry. Different voices help our industry grow.
However, becoming a thought leader is not without its challenges. It takes time, effort, and dedication. And, once you have established yourself as a thought leader, there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with it.
Are you up for the challenge? Here are some ways ODs have become thought leaders over the last 10 years.
1. Develop your expertise: To become a thought leader, you need to have in-depth knowledge and expertise in your field. This means staying up-to-date on the latest research, trends, and technologies in optometry. Attend conferences, seminars, and webinars. Read industry publications like Vision Monday and network with other professionals in the field; whether in person or on Facebook groups.
2. Create a platform: Establish a platform for yourself where you can share your ideas and thoughts. This can be in the form of a blog, a podcast, or social media. Create content that is informative, engaging, and provides value to your audience. Don’t be afraid of thinking outside the box and talking about things that others don’t.
3. Network: Networking is a crucial part of becoming a thought leader. Attend events, conferences, and seminars to connect with other professionals in the field. Meeting people face to face has a lot of meaning. You have to attend all the major conferences and add value to those conferences, whether it be cocktail hours, dinners, panel discussions, Facebook live events and podium time. Engage with others online through social media, LinkedIn groups, and forums.
4. Engage with your audience: Engage with your audience by responding to comments, questions, and feedback. Start a conversation and get people talking about your ideas. Encourage debate and be open to different opinions and perspectives. Thought leaders interact with other industry professionals throughout the year, not just at conferences. When you have other ODs asking you your thoughts on topics in optometry and breaking news, you have become a Key Opinion Leader.
5. Be authentic: A thought leader is not someone who pretends to know it all. Be authentic and transparent with your audience. Admit when you don’t know something and be willing to learn. Optometry is an evolving profession, leaders are readers. The more you continue to learn the better you will become and continue to evolve as a thought leader.
6. Seek out opportunities: Look for opportunities to speak at conferences, contribute to publications,provide content on social media and participate in webinars. Use your platform to promote your expertise and showcase your skills. Content is key! The more content you develop the more recognition you will get on the area you are looking to break into. Thought leaders seek out opportunities for exposure, it is never about the money but for the purpose.
7. Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to building a following and establishing yourself as a thought leader. It takes time and effort to build a reputation, so be patient and keep working at it. If your competitor is providing 1 content a week look to do 3x-5x more content per week. Over time content development will become part of your routine and won’t take up as much time as it did before.
Becoming a thought leader in optometry is not an easy task, but with dedication, hard work, and a passion for the field, it is achievable. As you establish yourself as a leader, remember to always be humble, open to learning, and eager to share your expertise with others.