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Thought Leadership: How to Build It

These 5 approaches will help you expand your thought leadership as a pediatric dietitian.

When I started my private practice, it was my first foray into running a business. I was so excited to do things the way I wanted to do them.

I was ready to be free of double-checking how I said things to ensure I was “hospital-compliant.” I was glad to have the freedom to work on a program or project I wanted to create.

In a nut: Running my own business allowed me to be my own boss.

Before long, I started to develop a triage system for working through some of the challenges my clients were facing.

I started to solidify my tenets and my belief system around how food, feeding, parenting and child development played a role in the issues my clients were facing.

I started to be fearless in telling my families how I would manage their kids – what I would do, and what I would not do. Like helping families set up an environment that helped their kids develop good habits, rather than putting them on weight loss diets.

Eventually this fearless, unapologetic point of view seeped into my writing, my speaking, my consulting, and everything I do today.

And it built my thought leadership.

In this article, you’ll learn what a unique point of view means for pediatric dietitians and nutritionists, and how to build thought leadership to make a bigger impact.

Jill Castle, pediatric dietitian, on location at a video shoot.

What Does It Mean to be a Thought Leader?

Many of the pediatric nutrition professionals I mentor want to expand their thought leadership. They want:

  • To be known for their ideas
  • To be a trusted, respected expert
  • To make an impact
  • To do good
  • To feel aligned in their ideas and their work (Because if you’re thinking thoughts but you’re not expressing them regularly, you can feel pretty out of alignment with your purpose.)

They all want this, but they don’t know how to get it. They don’t know what to do, or how to do it.

How to Build Thought Leadership (5 Ways for Beginners)

Of course, there are many avenues to expand and build your thought leadership. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Nail Down Your Unique Point of View

Before I tell you to launch yourself on the newest social media platform or pitch yourself to a news outlet, your first job is to figure out your UNIQUE point of view in the area of expertise you’re pursuing.

I emphasize unique because there are a lot of pediatric nutrition voices out there, and you don’t want to be repeating someone else’s perspective. Doing so will dilute your own.

(Of course, give those thought leaders you incorporate into your work the credit they deserve.)

If you don’t know what your point of view is, sit down and journal three areas where you feel you have expertise and want to become the “go-to expert.”

Then journal the answers to the following questions:

What is not being said about this topic?

What do you find yourself saying over and over that is different from everyone else?

What do you do that is novel, refreshing, or mind-shifting?

This should help you evolve your point of view and thought leadership.

2. Pitch Yourself

Whether it be a guest blog post or a spot on Good Morning America, getting into the practice of pitching yourself to gain exposure outside of your following will help you become known for your point of view.

Today, the threshold for gaining exposure is low. Just look at the growth potential of Instagram reels, YouTube and Tiktok!

Start your own channel or collaborate with another channel. Make sure you express your unique point of view every time you have the chance.

To get on someone else’s platform, such as a podcast, Youtube channel, or traditional media, you’ll need a good pitch, a thick skin, and superb follow up skills. We go through this in my THRIVE program at length because pediatric nutrition professionals aren’t used to pitching themselves.

The old “You’re an expert, so they will find you” mentality doesn’t work for the majority of us anymore. You need to be able to pitch yourself and put yourself out there in order to be a thought leader.

3. Speak on a Stage

Speaking is an art. Gone are the days of throwing up a power point slide deck and hiding behind the podium.

Yet, it’s one of the best ways to spread your ideas and build thought leadership. Whether you’re speaking to your local library, school or scout troop, or on a national organization’s stage, speaking is one of the most effective ways to spread your ideas (and receive feedback on them).

Speaking will improve your communication skills, help you make connections, and add to your revenue stream. If you’re fearful of speaking, I suggest you invest in a coach or speaking class to overcome this.

4. Lead Your Own Educational Opportunities

When you own your own busines, it’s easy to develop and deliver your own educational trainings such as workshops, tutorials, and classes. When you’re in the position of educator or facilitator, you’re automatically in the thought leader seat.

Whatever you choose to lead, be sure to create an experience that leaves your attendees in a new place. In other words, focus on the transformation you want your audience to experience.

5. Publish Yourself

Nowadays, you can publish just about anything you want. An article, a course, a class, a workshop, an e-book, a traditional print book, personal handouts…even tee shirts, mugs and signage for your business!

There is virtually no barrier to getting yourself and your ideas published. (You may need to learn a few things to get to the point of publishing a book, for instance, or you can hire someone to do it for you).

The beauty of publishing yourself is it enhances your visibility, positions you as the expert, and helps your audience solve a problem or reach a goal. Entwine everything you publish with your unique point of view and thought leadership.

How are you building your thought leadership?

Strive Mastermind for nutrition professionals with Jill Castle, MS, RDN

Want to Join Me?

I have a mastermind I run each year for dietitians and nutritionists:

Strive Mastermind – A mastermind program for seasoned business owners who want to sustain momentum and collaborate with other nutrition professionals.

Or, check out my other trainings and offerings for pediatric nutrition professionals.

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