If you’ve ever thought about trying to become an authority in your field, you’ve probably wondered what the best steps to take would be. After all, most niches are quite competitive and getting to the top of the food chain is rarely easy. Truth is you’ll have to work not only harder, but also smarter, than everyone else. Here are some of the best things you could do to reach that sought-after thought leader position:

Be a leader

This one is a given. Authority figures should be leaders who aren’t afraid to take the initiative. What this means in practice depends on the niche and situation, but the key is to never act like a follower. People should follow you, not the other way around.

Do not fear controversy

Some people fear being controversial, but as an authority you should in fact embrace it. People are drawn to controversy and there is no better chance to market yourself than placing yourself right in the middle of it. Don’t stir things up just to be controversial though, that’ll likely be counterproductive. The key is recognizing chances to voice an unpopular (but right) opinion and going against the grain – that’s when controversy can play into your hands.

Be humble and respectful

No matter what you do, you should always respect others and be humble, even if you know more than almost everyone else in your niche. Staying in an authority position is just so much easier when people actually like you, not just tolerate you because of your skills and knowledge. This also shouldn’t require much effort from you, so it’s a winning strategy in every way.

Help others

A great way to cement your status as a thought leader is taking every opportunity you get to help others who need it, even if you don’t benefit directly from it yourself. This is perfect for creating lifelong, loyal fans who will stop at nothing to return the favor in the future. It doesn’t have to take much time either, simply answering questions daily on an industry forum can be more than enough.

Be social

You cannot become a thought leader without knowing and interacting with people in your niche. Whether it’s offline or online on social networks, making an effort to be social and continually make new friends and contacts is one of the most powerful things you can do to make sure your authority status will remain solid today and in the future. All the connections you make have the potential to help you, so never pass up an opportunity to make a new friend!

Write a book

Nothing says “expert” like having written and published a real hardcopy book that’s available to buy in bookstores around the nation (bonus points if it gets translated to other languages). It’s an instant credibility booster, and definitely something every aspiring authority figure should consider working on. Remember that you can always hire a ghostwriter if you’re too busy or otherwise unable to write it yourself!

Host seminars/webinars and teach others what you know

Teaching is a surefire way to become recognized as an authority in your niche. There are many ways to help people learn, but hosting live seminars (or online webinars) has to be one of the most effective for authority status building. The larger you can make the events, the better. If you reach a point where you can easily get hundreds of attendees at your seminars, you’ll know for sure that you’ve made it.

Start blogging

It’s not a given that starting a blog means you’ll be recognized as an authority, but if you play your cards right you’ll have a good chance. The trick is working harder than your competitors, and not giving up during that initial period when success seems so far away. Take the time to write in-depth posts that are actually helpful and you’ll be much better off than those cranking out generic 400-word posts that are mostly filled with fluff.