Finding Your Signature Topic
7 questions to ask when identifying your thought leadership niche
Most of us have a signature dish we’re famous for (at least amongst friends and family). It’s usually something we enjoy cooking, have a lot of experience with and have added our unique twist to. Our choice of dish is often artfully simple - whether it’s our mother’s apple crumble recipe, or an omelet, we’ve found a way to master it, own it and add an element or two that distinguishes it from everyone else’s and improves it.
Likewise, when it comes to personal profile, we should have a topic we can own – one we are passionate about and have either mastered or are on the road to becoming an expert in. It should be aligned with our interests and expertise. In fact, chances are we’re probably already talking about it – or at least thinking about it.
If you don’t know what your signature topic is, ask your friends or colleagues for ideas about topics that seem a natural fit for you, that you love talking about and already have a reputation for being an expert in. Your passion for the topic will naturally give it a unique spin.
Perhaps the biggest clue of all is that your signature topic is likely to be something you are currently engaged with.
When people look to build their profile they often go out in search of a brand new landscape to play in – thinking they need to abandon the past and start afresh.
The truth is, typically this won’t work as effectively as starting with a point of familiarity and expertise and building from there.
If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself to help identify some life’s themes or your area of subject matter expertise. When answering the questions, don’t discount your full life experience, particularly if you are just starting out on your career – these experiences, even when we are teenagers can offer big clues about our enduring areas of passion and expertise:
Is there a message/experience in your life that you have felt driven to share with others?What are three positively defining moments in your life or career so far - and why?
What are the three greatest contributions you feel you have made to other people?
What is your favorite quote in life and why?
Who is the celebrity or businessperson you most admire, and why?
Who is the celebrity or businessperson you relate to the most, and why?
Did any recurring themes emerge from this exercise?
Within these themes there’s a clue about your authentic personal brand.