Being an industry resource for your members is a natural fit for associations and becoming a thought leader in the industry you serve is a good next step as an association professional. While the path to becoming viewed as a thought leader is simple, it’s not easy. You build an audience, share and create meaningful content, have unique opinions, and make yourself available as a resource.

What most people overlook as they try to build their platform and tribe as a thought leader, is the little ways they block their own success.

If you want to be a thought leader, you must stop undermining your communications. Most people don’t sabotage themselves in outright bold ways. That’s best left to Hollywood. Association professionals who undermine the perception of themselves as a thought leader, do so in more subtle ways.

3 Phrases to Eradicate if You Want To Be a Thought Leader

“I think…”

Of course you think that. It’s obvious because you’re saying it or writing it. Unless you cite or quote someone else, every opinion you give voice to, or write, is yours. Stop downplaying the importance of what you’re saying by using filler words.

Thought leaders have opinions. That’s why they’re “thought leaders” and not “thought followers” or “thought regurgitators.”

“It might just be me but…” or “I’m sorry, but….” or “I might not understand what you’re saying but…”

Women are notorious for using these qualifiers. We’re taught to play nice from an early age so when we disagree with someone or feel we must contradict them, we make apologies or insert qualifiers for our opinions.

Say sorry when you have something to be sorry about, not when you have a differing opinion.

“I read somewhere that…”

Reading is a great investment in your professional development (among other things), a way to expand your thinking. Thought leaders should read a lot. However, if you’re going to talk about something you read do your best to cite what it is and where it came from. If you leave it open-ended, like the example, that could be on the back of a milk carton, cereal box, or bathroom stall.

Give credit where it’s due. It will bolster the validity of your opinion with additional proof and will portray you as a well-read individual. On the other hand, never say “I read somewhere…” if you’re just trying to lend more credence to your opinion. Making up articles or using the nebulous “read somewhere” makes you look like you can’t remember the details.

What are some other phrases people use that sabotage the confidence others place in them? Leave me a message below.