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Practical steps for publishing an article that demonstrates thought leadership

Publishing articles is the foundation of any thought leadership program. But it can be a frustrating exercise for someone who doesn’t know the steps involved. So, here’s a nine-step process for how you can get that article published -- painlessly, reliably and with no drama.There’s a video version available here, and below you’ll find the steps in text.

Step 1: Your expertise

You need to start by asking yourself two questions. The first is, ‘what expertise do I want to be known for?” That can include the kinds of work you do now, but also the expertise you want to build for the future. Just blue-sky a bit -- in your ideal career, maybe in a few years, what kinds of work do you want to be known for?

Step 2: Your topic

The expertise you want to be known for drives the topics you want to write about -- you want to show your understanding of the issues that clients face, so you can develop content that is interesting to them. The article cannot be a sales pitch -- editors and readers just hate that -- but it needs to demonstrate your expertise.

Step 3: Your target market

The second question is about the market you want to reach. And again, you need to demonstrate your expertise to your current clients, because you depend on them for revenue right now. But also think of the markets you want to build for the future -- maybe move into serving clients in new industry, or new geographic area.

Step 4: Your publications

Your decision around which market to reach is what drives your choice of publications to write for. You need to find publications that are already trusted by the people youwant to reach. This could be online publications like influential blogs, or the websites of professional or industry associations. And, print magazines are still a very valid way to reach potential clients.

Step 5: Present your idea to the editor

But please, don’t sit down and write the article yet! You should get the editor’s buy-in to your idea first, and you do that with a query letter. A good query has four points:

  1. The topic you want to write about
  2. Reasons why the publication’s readers will be interested in that topic
  3. A brief outline of your proposed article
  4. Describe the qualifications that the writer has for addressing this topic

Step 6: Work with the publication

If the editor likes your idea, work with the editor to get agreement on the deadline and the length of the article. Online publications tend to be less deadline-driven than are print publications, but they still have an editorial schedule to meet. If the editor doesn’t like the topic you’ve presented, you can still discuss with the editor what topic might be of more interest -- provided it’s a topic you’re qualified to discuss, and for which you want to be known.

Step 7: Get your article written

Once you have the go-ahead from the editor, then you can go ahead and get it written. Notice that I’m not saying “write the article,” because for many business professionals, writing is not a strong suit. It’s not a good use of their time. For this reason, many business professionals turn to a ghost-writer to help them get at least a first draft of the article done, which they can then edit and revise until it says what they want it to say. Or, they might start by writing their own first draft, and then bring in a copy editor who can make their ideas sing.

Step 8: Celebrate

Then, after it’s published, celebrate -- a lot of people say they want to get their ideas published, but only a few will actually make it happen.

Step 9: Leverage your article

  • Do reprints of the article to build your credibility in face-to-face meetings
  • Post PDFs of your article in your LinkedIn profile, and list it in your “Publications”
  • E-mail copies to your contacts -- clients and prospects
  • Include mention of the article in your Twitter feed
  • Develop other articles based on what you’ve published
  • Use the ideas in the article to develop speeches and workshops
  • Take ideas in the article and turn them into blog posts, including guest posts on others’ blogs

So there you have it -- a process for publishing your article. There’s plenty more information on our website, at . Hope to see you there.

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