Thought leaders you have to follow on social media

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Virtually everything I read about social media and small business these days focuses on marketing and very little else.

Now, I get the fact that building your brand and generating leads for your business is important. No sales, no business. But if that’s all you use social media for, you’re missing out big time on the opportunity to enrich your mind with the myriad of stories, ideas, opinions and philosophies that experts, authorities, and thought leaders locally and overseas expound regularly via blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Used properly — with passion and purpose — social media can help you professionally by broadening your perspective on a number of fronts, more so than at any time in our history.

Why? Because it’s never been easier to interact with thought leaders — to check out the links they share, read their blog posts, listen to their podcast interviews, or get involved in their conversations online.

While it’s incumbent on small business owners to stay up to date with what’s happening in their profession or industry, you will only grow as a professional by constantly expanding your horizons and challenging your thinking.

If you want to gain an edge over the competition, you really need to be in tune, not just with what’s going on in your industry specifically, but also with the business world generally. What are the thought leaders saying, what trends are bubbling under the radar, what are the new challenges facing companies, where is technology heading and what opportunities will emerging new media bring?

Thought leaders online

By all means continue to read the mainstream press, listen to the radio and watch television. But set aside part of your day to absorb the words and actions of people such as:

Try listening to podcasts such as Entrepreneur On Fire, The Engaging Brand, Six Pixels of Separation, The Human Business Way, Social Triggers and Michael Hyatt’s This is Your Life.

It takes roughly a minute to read one of Seth Godin’s daily blog posts, but the power of his words will rattle around inside your head for days. Watching Gary Vaynerchuk prowl the stage for a keynote presentation will challenge the traditional way you think about marketing. Losing yourself in the conversations Mitch Joel has with an array of interesting and forward-thinking guests on his podcast program will inspire you to investigate further.

Watching Jonathan Fields interview all sorts of thought-provoking guests on his Good Life Project web video series might take 40+ minutes out of your day, but it will take your mind out of your business and help you to see the world in a different way.

Following someone like Brian Solis or Mark Schaefer on Twitter will provide you with endless inspiration and links to more great material. And if you’re after even more inspiration and progressive ideas, check out LinkedIn’s influencers section where you can subscribe to regular posts from any number of globally recognised entrepreneurs, authors, politicians, journalists, experts and thinkers.

When running your own business, it’s very easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the day to day. But by following the right people on the social web — the progressive thinkers, disrupters and mischief makers — you will become a smarter business person with a sharper edge to your game.

  • Great post thanks Trevor, will have to allocate some serious time to get to know these people. Thanks heaps!

    • Thanks Winston, agree – time is required, not just to read and watch and listen, but also reflect. The beauty of podcasts is you can listen while you’re doing other things – exercise both the body and brain at the one time! While I read a lot, listening to podcasts is super-high on my daily agenda. Not sure if you use an RSS reader so you can get all your content feeds in the one place – in the (soon to be) absence of Google Reader, I’m now using http://theoldreader.com/ – but there are numerous others.

  • Great list Trevor. I’d also add @leeodden and @mdsimmonds. Their insights rarely disappoint.

    • Thanks for those two additions Actuate IP – I’ve read Lee’s stuff before, agree he’s definitely up there; not acquainted with Marshall Simmonds’ work – thanks for the tip!

  • Well said Trevor! Not to mention how awesome social media is for your personal life. Tomorrow my daughter and I are going scuba diving in the Cayman Islands. We chose the location by tapping social media and listening to people who are passionate about diving.

    • Couldn’t agree more David! Social media can be incredibly enriching for one’s personal life!

  • Monika Lancucki

    Hi there Trevor. an interesting collection. A number of old faves and some newbies. You might also want to add Lucy Marcus, columnist and host of “In the Boardroom with Lucy Marcus”. Lucy’s work can be found in Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, Huff Post and there is a range of material of hers on you tube. She is a thought-leader in the areas of leadership governance and innovation. She posts about things such as how social media has changed the boardroom and is regarded as one of the most influential Brits on Twitter. Her handle is @lucymarcus. Check it out. If anyone wants to hear Lucy in person she will be speaking at the IABC Vic gala in Melbourne on 6 June. For tickets visit http://www.vic.iabc.com

    • Indeed Monika – I follow Lucy on Twitter and she definitely adds value. Great to see the IABC has her coming out for their June event!

      • Monika

        Thanks Trevor – We are very excited to have her joining us, and to have one of our local Victorian members on this list! Thanks for compiling and sharing it

  • pete mcnally

    Great list indeed,socmed angels.

  • This is a fantastic list Trevor. A couple there I did not have bookmarked. I have spent the last hour reading Chris Brogans stuff. Loving it #amazing.

    • Thank you Cameron. Chris Brogan is pretty prolific across his blog, books and podcast, and is always sharing lots of thoughts and ideas. Great to hear you’re getting value from his stuff!

  • I love this post Trevor!

    You raise valid points in that there is so much more to business then marketing although it is vital, also social media is so much more then trying to use it for sales or lead gen. There is so much noise online and I love that social media so much more then “What you ate for breakfast” we have this ability to connect with some amazing people and anyone can get inspiration from any where. If we all surround ourselves with people who challenged our thoughts and make us feel things that we haven’t felt then we would all be so much more engaged, empowered and enlightened.

    I have been at a place where everyone seems to be doing the same thing and I just want to break out and be different, be me so you have made me realise I need to raise the bar and surround myself with different thought leaders.

    Great work T

    RX

    • Cheers Renee, thanks – I think it’s always been vital to infuse, energise and challenge our thinking with ideas and opinions of others; a healthy mix of divergent views plus adding our own knowledge and unique experiences to come up with a point of view or philosophy that fits our personal world-view and that we believe in wholeheartedly. I’ve always tried to do that with books – and still do – it’s just great we can now access these external perspectives from all over the (virtual) place!