8 Tips to Help Unlock Your Internal Thought Leadership

Marketing Strategies

Best practices for increasing participation and collaboration with internal subject matter experts

When it comes to creating thought leadership content, tapping into the expertise of internal subject matter experts (SMEs) is crucial. But, as you may know, getting participation and extracting ideas from these brilliant people can sometimes feel akin to pulling teeth.

Here are tips for working with SMEs to get more insights and participation from them:

1. Establish clear objectives

Clearly communicate the objectives and goals of the thought leadership content. Giving SMEs the opportunity to review the content prior to its distribution/publication can allay fears that their input will be misused. When SMEs understand the purpose and desired outcomes, they are more likely to engage actively and contribute relevant ideas. 

2. Name drop and be respectful

Sharing participation of other SMEs can be encouragement for participation. It’s also important to be respectful of their time. For this reason, scheduling interviews of 30 minutes max, unless there is a clear and justifiable reason to go beyond this, shows you respect their time.

3. Offer flexibility in how SMEs contribute their ideas

Different individuals may have varying preferences for idea generation. Some may thrive in open-ended discussions, while others may prefer specific prompts or questions to spark their creativity. Some prefer a quick call and others prefer email — let them choose what works best for them if possible.

4. Foster collaboration

Try to get SMEs from different departments or areas of expertise to collaborate on the subject matter. Cross-functional discussions can lead to unique perspectives and innovative ideas that might not arise otherwise.

5. Provide external inspiration

Share relevant industry news, trends, or thought-provoking articles with SMEs to stimulate their thinking and inspire new ideas. You can also combine industry topics with common customer challenges to get their take and encourage an interesting conversation.

6. Encourage risk taking

Ask them if there are any myths in their industry they can bust or what advice they might give that goes against the grain and why? Where does their thinking differ from others and get them to open up about it and why.

7. Thought leadership = personal brand

Being published as a thought leader can help elevate the SME personal brand and increase their visibility visibility in their industry. Make sure they know what type of visibility they’ll get for participating, such as what channels the content will be distributed on and the audience that will see it.

8. Offer support and recognition

Acknowledging and showing appreciation for the contributions of SMEs throughout the ideation process can motivate SMEs to actively participate in thought leadership initiatives. Creating a supportive environment where SMEs feel valued can be key to getting great content.

Content, Original Research

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