There are three specific areas that you can use to build your credibility most effectively: networking & referral building, public speaking and writing & publicity. This is based on CJ Hayden’s marketing strategies for professional services in the book Get Clients Now!:
Networking and referral building
Get people to refer you to potential clients is one of the most effective credibility tools you can use. Being introduced by somebody they trust, will make it much more likely that potential clients will be interested to talk to you.
Who have you worked with who can provide referrals?
How can you approach them to brief them on who you are looking for?
Who else is working with your target market but in a non-competitive way?
Can you set up a regular referral partner meeting with 6-10 businesses working in the same field, or can you create informal partnerships where you help each other?
Most happy clients are very pleased to talk about you and give you referrals, testimonials or case studies, as long as you actually ask them!
Identify specific events (on or off line) where people who might want to work with you or purchase from you will attend. It doesn’t matter if they are small events (such as training events, exhibitions/private views and online forums), as these are often better than large scale events where you can’t find anybody.
Don’t waste your time at events that are full of your peers or without anybody with buying power. Don’t sell yourself too quickly (especially on line!) but be helpful and show your expertise in a specific area. Do focus on those online forums where you can create an impact with your expertise.
Don’t just attend an event, speak at a networking or training event. Don’t just think here about being the main speaker.
A well placed question at a major conference, leading to a good discussion, can increase your visibility in the crowd as well as your credibility.
Volunteer in a visible position, if it is for the right profile organisation or project. You can learn a lot, and use it for your CV. I have run free workshops at wellknown venues, and just by association they have increased my profile.
Give good referrals to others is a very effective way to build your credibility, both to the potential client and the person you refer. It shows that you have got a good network of contacts, and that you know your own strengths and talents and prefer to focus on these (instead of doing a lesser job). Especially if you do this with business clients they will appreciate your honesty and knowledge, and will be more likely to come back to you in the future. Giving referrals also will increase the likelihood that you will get referrals back (‘they will owe you one’).
Stay in touch with potential and ex-clients will build your credibility, especially when customer service is essential to your business. Send a personal birthday or Christmas card, or send a recommendation by e-mail for a book or other resource (‘I saw this and thought of you’), can remind people of you and build your credibility as a person who cares about their clients and understands their challenges.
Speaking in public can increase your credibility dramatically. Not just at the event itself, but also using this to promote yourself to your database and new audiences to let people know about you or remind them that you are out there.
More people are scared of speaking in public than dying …. but even if that includes you think a bit out of the box as there is a variety of things you can do prior to being the main speaker at a conference! Chairing committee meetings, serving on discussion panels, developing and running your own workshops, or just a short intro video on your website can do wonders.
And even just contributing as a participant to a discussion in a workshop or asking a powerful question at a major event, can lead to great networking opportunities afterwards.
Writing and publicity
Write articles or columns for specialist print publications or blogs to share your expertise and resources. These articles don’t just reach the readers, but you can maximise your exposure by emailing or tweeting it to your database, linking it on your website, or posting it on Yahoo or Linked In groups. You can also give an additional report or e-book away to readers as an extra bonus (don’t forget to get their name and email address).
If it is a regular column than people will start to remember you as an expert. The better known the publication or blog, obviously the better for your credibility. But even a very specialist article for a niche market read by 23 people can make you the expert in your field and grab the attention of the person you want to work with.
Respond to questions on forums is a great way to share your expertise. Don’t try to sell yourself too much though, as this will work against you and you might actually be barred (plus most readers hate it!).
Get quoted by the media is a great credibility booster! Approach journalists in your expertise area, or respond to online forums to create opportunities like this.
Get stories and images published about you, and then maximise your exposure by re-circulating them. Identify specific journalists and bloggers with similar interests in your area, research them and get to know them (i.e. follow them on twitter, check out Linked In), respond to their articles, and then approach them.
Writing your own book is a great way to increase your visibility and credibility. These days it can be as simple as a self-published e-book about ‘How to do …’, but even better obviously is working with a publisher.
You can find more structural suggestions on building your credibility in initial actions to build your credibility.
How have you increased your credibility successfully? Have you got tips or comments, please share them below.