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Chicagoans: How To Be A Thought Leader In Your Industry

Think you have the skills it takes to be an industry expert in Chicago? Whether you're a wedding photographer, cupcake baker, banker or mortgage broker, you can be a thought leader in your field, sharing tips and information with others and establishing yourself as a credible source.

To get started, consider using a website and blog simultaneously. For an expert's take at becoming a thought leader, we talked to Anne West, a Realtor with the Come Home North Shore team at Coldwell Banker. West writes content for the team's blog and website, North Shore Views.

Anne West of Coldwell Bank (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)
Anne West of Coldwell Bank (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)

To establish yourself as an industry expert, West emphasized that you need a blog in addition to a professional website. "While a website can tell your readers about your experience, a blog is dynamic and interactive. Regardless of your industry, having both is important," she said. To get started, check out West's tips.

Know your target audience. Are you writing for other experts in your industry? Are you also hoping to use your blog to generate business? According to West, it's important to know who to write for in a blog. As many of her clients tend to be families with children, she includes posts on family-friendly events, like where to go ice-skating.

Have plenty of content. West updates her blog frequently, often writing a new post two to three times per week. "The danger in starting a blog is not updating it at all after the first few posts," she said, adding that she keeps a file of ideas for future blog posts. Frequent updates to a blog will also help it be found via search engines.

Share your knowledge. According to West, industry experts shouldn't balk at revealing their expertise. "Consumers are smart and savvy, so you have to give them the information they need or they'll go to another site. If I don't tell my readers how to get their homes ready to sell, someone else will," she explained. West also stated that sharing industry know-how further adds credibility to a site. "If a potential client wants to know 'Why should I hire you?' they can look at the blog and see how much I know about the area and about buying and selling a home," she said.

Give your blog personality. If you're sharing industry information that can be dry, it's imperative to inject some personality into a blog post. "Share a bit about yourself with your readers and talk about your hobbies, pets or kids. This information helps readers to get to know you," West said. She also added that making the blog fun and informative will entice readers to return.

Check out your competitors. Do some research and see how other experts in your field provide content for your industry. West said she seeks out other real estate agents' blogs and websites from all over the country to see what topic ideas might work for her own site.

Use social media. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms can help an industry expert expand their reach. According to West, she targets where to post links to certain articles. A link to a post on an upcoming festival in the North Shore might be posted on Facebook, while a story on house sales might be posted on LinkedIn. West further uses social media sites to boost her credibility, as people will refer her to others via sites like LinkedIn.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I'm a Trader Joe's Fan. Her work can be found at

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