The phrase thought leader instantly sparks up names like Timothy Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, and all the successful bloggers throughout the World. I'm not keen on considering myself as a thought leader, but I do seem to have quite the community behind my name to support that claim, that's always nice!
Thought leaders don't get manufactured overnight, you've to work hard, and you have to be able to prove yourself to others. Expertise comes after several years of intense practice, communication, and analysis of progress. I've been blogging for years, and perhaps if I had done only that - I would be a thought leader by now, but blogging - like any small business - involves a lot more than just writing.
These days, I write about things like how to become a better learner, and I'm also very focused on helping people to learn more about programming, web security, and the internet in general. I'm also happy to provide insights about design choices, and productivity has always been close to my heart.
If you send out a tweet and it receives five+ interactions within an hour, there is a very likely chance that you're becoming a thought leader within your field of work. I'm always happy to see that big brands and names tweet out, share on Facebook or LinkedIn the content that I produce. In order to maximize this, be more engaged with your community. Thank people!
Networking is quite a big part of becoming an expert and/or thought leader, whichever title you prefer. I network using email, Skype, sometimes even my phone - but I can't imagine becoming even close to an expert without natural communication. Don't read how to communicate, be yourself and allow yourself to learn. Trust me, we're tired of catered messages being sent to us.
At first, you might not realize that you love what you do, but as the time goes by - a kind of flaming passion ignites within you, some time has passed since you began your project and it is finally starting to feel recognized, which in turn increases the happiness levels for you.
But, if you feel like you're getting nowhere - don't fear to start over, perhaps you need to create another project to have the necessary balance?
Are thought leaders going to conquer the World? Who knows, but they're definitely out there. We're all thought leaders in our own way, we just have to accept that.