Thought leadership is a concept that many meeting professionals integrate into their own conference or event content.
But what about including it on a personal level?
Thought leadership is a fast way to accomplish many things in one’s career:
- Learn about new ideas, concepts, emerging technologies and legal impacts before they actually arrive.
- Understand how to implement them into your workplace with practical application.
- Help your organization be poised to meet future challenges or opportunities head on, or be ready to springboard ahead of the competition.
By being an early adopter of new concepts, you can not only be a driving force for helping organizations evolve, but also grow your own career by being the catalyst that helps them get there.
Thought leadership, by definition, is literally getting ahead of the proverbial 8 ball.
Business Insider had a great quote about thought leadership in general: “Thought leaders are seen as trustworthy, go-to authorities among industry colleagues and peers,” said Jake Dunlap, CEO and founder of sales consulting firm Skaled.
“They possess an innate ability to contribute to the conversations happening today, while also being able to speculate on what is going to happen tomorrow. Rather than chime in on every topic, they set the pace for the industry and offer intelligent insights and informed opinions.”
So how does a meeting professional gain access to thought leadership?
If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend MPI’s World Education Congress, then you should. (This year, it’s happening June 2-5 in Indianapolis—visit www/mpiweb.org/wec18 for complete details.)
The wide-ranging subject matter at this event provides some tasty tidbits of the universe that’s out there.
But to fully capitalize on the menu of thought leadership available, you have to do some digging to uncover where the thought leaders are located, and then head to that conference or event to get fully immersed. Some thought leadership events are aimed at specific job functions, so the content is highly specialized.
Understanding what is about to hit and how that might impact a company or how it does business is a critical thought leadership trait.
Think of it is as the person in the crow’s nest looking at the horizon who yells, “Land ho!”—that’s what you’d be doing. You’ll spot the next destination before anyone else and can help navigate the ship in that direction.
Other types of thought leadership are what I call “Blow the Lid Off” types of learning.
This is the kind of thing that can fundamentally change how you see things, react to them and decide how you can work with or without them. TedX is a great example of this.
There is also a whole other world out there that is based on thought leadership, but it goes in entirely different directions.
Case in point: If you want to know what kind of emerging technologies and innovations are on the way in, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is a great show to check out. Not everything that gets buzz in this event limelight ends up having staying power in the consumer marketplace, but being exposed to so many new applications can be inspiring.
Similarly, SXSW is the annual digital and interactive media hotspot in Austin, with film, interactive media and music festivals and conferences all congregating within one area. Seeing what is attracting users can have tremendous applicability to your own work.
Recently, I read about C2, an “annual international business conference that helps established and aspiring leaders unlock their creativity in order to better face disruption and change.” It’s been getting a lot of buzz too, and could be a great place to really gain insights on disruption at the executive level. What are they talking about, and how is that going to impact your organization?
The World Business Forum is known as a thought leadership event that “brings together thousands of restless minds united by their passion for business.” With speakers that include CEOs, entrepreneurs, innovators, thinkers, artists and sportspeople, this event can provide inspiration beyond the daily grind and help you rethink how you do business.
Want to get truly savvy with social media? Try going to Content Marketing World which showcases speakers from top global brands discussing the innovations they are introducing with content marketing.
But what if you are fairly new in your career and desire to make a difference? Try the One Young World conference which brings together young leaders who are ready to find ways to solve critical global issues.
Similarly, a lot of women-focused thought leadership conferences have sprung up. BlogHer Conference is one of the most well-known for its networking and ability to inspire, empower and celebrate female influencers, but you might check locally to see if there are other such gatherings taking place closer to home.
Ready to really push your envelope? Burning Man is an off-the-wall gathering that is, well, not for the faint of heart. From what I understand, those that attend Burning Man find it to be completely inspiring (and, of course, sand is in everything).
Sustainability has been and will continue to be a hot topic, and there’s a plethora of thought leadership conferences you can consider.
If none of these get your innovation juices flowing, then a good way to find out what conferences to attend is to start asking colleagues and industry connections what they think is a good source of new ideas.
Now, start making plans to attend!
(Featured image CC Frank-Bernard)