I’m once again returning to how followers think (after yesterday’s message was very well received) with a tactic for establishing common ground with your followers.
First off, why would you want to establish common ground?
Well, you do and you don’t, actually. You are the leader and they are the followers, but they need to be solidly convinced that you understand their lives, and particularly their situation that is applicable to your expertise.
This builds trust in you as a Thought Leader, which is something you’re going to need. And the reason you need it is because your follower needs it.
There are a few ways to establish common ground with your follower, but I’m going to give you the best one right now.
You should have a before and after story about you and your thought leadership career. This is your personalized story about what your life was like before you learned and implemented what you now teach, and what your life is like now.
Your followers need to see themselves in the “before” part of your before and after story, so you need to tell that part with as much detail as you can. In the context of telling them about your life, you need to be telling them things about their lives that they’ve never told anyone else.
So let me give you an example. Let’s say you help people lose weight and get in shape because you were once very overweight and you figured out how to drop all those pounds.
When you’re talking about the “before” in your story, you need to talk about getting winded going up a flight of steps, the embarrassment of having to ask for a seat belt extension on a plane, and how you felt when people looked at you as you were eating an ice cream cone.
They need to feel that not only do you empathize with their situation, but that you have lived their life and you understand it intimately. You need to be saying things that only people that have lived through it can understand.
And that is the best way to establish common ground with your followers. Now if you haven’t been through their experience like that; let’s say that using my previous example you were never overweight, so you don’t have that “before” phase of your life, don’t despair. There are still ways to establish common ground.
Let me give you an example: when I go to the doctor with a broken leg, I don’t need the doctor to tell me about how they broke their leg a few years ago and talk about how much it hurt. I need them to show me they understand what I’m going through, and they have the tools, skills, and knowledge to fix my situation in the best and most painless and convenient way possible. And there are ways that the doctor can communicate that.
This is the kind of thing I discuss in the emails I send out every day to people who are up and coming Thought Leaders and quite a few who have been very successful at achieving and maintaining thought leadership. You can claim your place in that discussion by signing up at You Can Be A Thought Leader.