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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Earning Recognition and Respect

by Stefan Lindegaard

Earning Recognition and RespectIn Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell stated that it takes 10 years to become an expert in any given subject.

Many people actually reach this level. You might not be a professor or best-selling author, but you have probably worked long enough to become an expert in your given field - or you are on your way.

Yet, people having enough knowledge to qualify as a thought leader or expert do not get the recognition or credit they deserve - and often long for.

This is an interesting paradox. You work hard and at some point expect/hope to be perceived as an expert or thought leader, but it does not happen.

Why? The clutter of information and knowledge that surrounds us makes it so much more difficult to break through even if we have great, original ideas and an impressive knowledge base.

It is no longer enough just to qualify by knowledge to become an expert; you also need to know how to communicate and how to build a personal brand in order to become one.

I have spent more than 10 years on the topics of innovation and entrepreneurship. I am on the verge of breaking through and a recent incident prompted me to write this post and share my experiences and lessons as this might help others trying to figure out this paradox.

Obviously, this 'topic' is too broad to be covered in just one post so I will start out by sharing a few tips on what to consider if you want to be perceived as a thought leader or expert and then most likely follow-up with more posts.

Passion: You need to be passionate about what you are doing. I hope that this one is already in place for people who qualify as experts. If you decide to spend ten years on a given topic or business area then I really hope you have a passion for what you are doing.

Actually, I would argue that you could not deliver quality work over such a long period if you do not have a passion for what you do. Nevertheless, I too often meet people doing things they do not really like doing. I just do not get this...

Persistence: I remember when I started blogging several years ago. Sure, people will just come and read my thoughts. Nothing happened. Then, I got a couple of articles published in Strategy & Innovation, a respected newsletter from Innosight. Sure, companies will start looking into my services now. Nothing happened.

I started to engage with Twitter and became quite adept on social media in general. This helped drive some traffic to my blog. Sure, companies would now approach me. Things began to happen although slowly which I hope is also due to the current crisis :-). In May, I publish my first book, The Open Innovation Revolution by John Wiley & Sons, a respected, international publisher. I am curious what will happen afterwards, but the lesson here is very simple.

Nothing happens if you are not persistent.

Build a following: You do great work and you want to share this with the world. You might even want other people to help you spread the word on your work. Today, this starts by understanding how social media works. Personally, I use LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube as I focus on business topics. Others might also benefit from building a strong presence on Facebook.

Co-create with others: I recently opened up 15inno.com for other contributions on open innovation. The reason for doing this is two-fold. I really believe that sharing what is happening in the open innovation community helps this movement to continue growing. The other reason is that helping others getting recognition most likely also benefits yourself in the long run.

Be honest and 'share' yourself: I share private thoughts and lessons here. I do not have to, but I have learned that what many people really like is honesty as this reveals integrity, which again helps build authenticity. Thus, I also really appreciated this endorsement by Steve Shapiro, a great thought leader on innovation and business for my upcoming book:

"If you want 'open,' look no further. Stefan's open and (sometimes brutally) honest account of open innovation is refreshing. There is no B.S., theory, or fluff. You only get practical advice for making open innovation a reality in your organization. Let the revolution begin."

- Stephen Shapiro, Author, 24/7 Innovation; Chief Innovation Evangelist, InnoCentive

I am pleased by this as it really reflects my values of being open to helping others, working with a passion and being honest. You should try this approach as well.

What drives people to be perceived as a thought leader or expert? Money is probably on the list, but personally, my goal is to be able to work with things I feel passionate about, where I can continue to develop myself - and to get some recognition for this.

Can you relate to this? If so, then it would be great to hear about your experiences and insights...

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Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

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Blogger Jackie Hutter, Intellectual Property and Patent Business Strategist and "Recovering Patent Lawyer" said...

Thanks for this post, Stefan! I agree totally, and look forward to further posts on this subject. My experience is similar and I, too, "am on the verge of breaking through."

I would add that I was a "closed model expert" for many years, and was paid handsomely for sharing my expertise to those willing and able to pay for my time. Now I give stuff away-on my blog, on twitter, in public speaking engagements, on the phone etc. etc. People often ask why I give so much away for free when my knowledge is so valuable. The answer is simple: if I retained the closed model of expertise, few would know the value of my knowledge.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Thanks so much for posting this Stefan! THis sort of inspiration is so helpful.


3:42 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca Leaman said...

The peculiar thing, in this digital age, is that dead-tree credentials stillc arry a good deal of weight. Even if a book has disappointing sales, its author can often ride higher on the small wave it makes as a line on his CV - not that yours won't be a roaring success, Stefan (I'm sure it will be!); just an observation. Equally peculiar, though, is that print publishers are increasingly reluctant to take on a first-time author unless he has demonstrated the ability to build an online readership. Expertise and the assessment thereof is obviously a very complex thing!

8:54 PM  

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