If you want to succeed in business your clients and prospective clients have to believe in you; the more credible you are the easier it is to attract new clients into your world. Once you’ve established that relationship it’s crucial to develop a sense of trust and reliability. When people trust you they buy from you.
7 hot tips for building credibility as a business owner or an entrepreneur:
1. Make time to get it right
One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard was from Russell Simmons the self-styled Godfather of Hip Hop when being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah was talking about his extraordinary wealth and the number of homes he owns. Simmons responded to one of her questions by saying: “You can only sit on one chair at any one time.” I love that quote because it tells us that regardless of where we are in life, we can only do one thing in a single moment.
Making time in your business to do things right and not cut corners is giving your business the utmost respect. All too often we are in a rush. Travelling from one meeting to the next, on a conference call while sending an email, doing one task and grabbing the mobile as it rings for the tenth time that morning. You simply don’t do the best job you could possibly do when you don’t give the task your full attention and that leads to sloppy work!
2. Be authentic
It’s important in business to be authentic and to conduct yourself with confidence. You should not be afraid to show people who you are and what you’re all about as an individual and a provider of services or products. It’s important to trust yourself and your own skills in order to win the trust of new clients and to establish lasting credibility. Being up front and authentic will always win in the long run because most of us can soon see through showmanship or a lack of relevant knowledge and expertise. You should be aiming to show genuine enthusiasm for your clients’ businesses and an honest determination to deliver your best work each and every day.
3. Clarify your business message
I have a confession to make; I love the four ‘Cs’ – chocolate, champagne, cake and chicken. Yes, KFC! I remember when I was very young and my dad brought home my first bucket of chicken and the whole family sat around the table and devoured it. These days, KFC is the only fast food I allow myself to eat every so often – I need to leave room for the other ‘Cs’ in my life! I still love that tasty chicken but I’m sure my predilection is wrapped up in my childhood experiences.
From a marketing perspective KFC is a great example of good messaging. From its earliest origins the company has been crystal clear in its messaging and consistently told the public about its ‘eleven secret herbs and spices’ and used the tagline ‘finger licking good’. Today, they add that their chicken is fresh not frozen and they are one of the biggest fast food brands in the world. Whatever your business is and regardless of the services you offer, your message needs to clearly convey your core value proposition. In other words, explain WHY you do what you do? Successfully and succinctly define your “sweet-spot” and you’ll see your credibility sore.
4. Be consistent in your approach
Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and John Lewis all excel at two things (i) consistency of message and (ii) consistency in customer experience. If you are clear about what you and your business stands for then a consistent message helps potential clients remember who you are. If you follow-up with great customer service then the experience will be cemented in the minds of your client. In other words, your clients or customers will feel a certain way about you and your business and that creates an emotional link – which is surely what we all want! You don’t have to be the best to be credible but you do have to be consistent and make your clients remember the experience for all the right reasons.
5. Create social trust
In today’s world, building a trusted online presence is fundamental in establishing credibility, especially when prospective clients can access information about you and your business via social media tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Your social proof includes testimonials and references from happy clients. To build your status as an expert in your field, blogging is a brilliant vehicle to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your knowledge. Also, tweeting can be inspirational and educational – the fact that you only have 140 characters to play with is not a problem for us warrior entrepreneurs, remember we inspire people! So get creative. Coming up with valuable nuggets of information will complement your overall business, build social trust and steadily help you establish widespread credibility in your industry.
6. Find your voice
One of the most effective ways to build credibility is to present, by which I mean stand up in front of people and offer advice as an expert. It takes a lot of courage to present to a group of people, whether they are your peers, colleagues or complete strangers. But, providing you have a clear, well thought-out presentation and a strong delivery style, your audience will go away happy to have listened and if you know how to sell from the stage you can walk away having secured a big pay day.
If, however, you don’t know how to sell from the stage or you’re not quite confident enough to try, then it might be well worth finding out a bit more about people who train in this area. Lisa Sasevich comes to mind as someone who can show you how to create your ‘Signature Talk’ and enable you to sell from speaking events. There are many others who work specifically on presentation, voice and the ability to craft a great story. Creating a positive impact and reflecting on your personal experiences as a service provider can help you to connect with audiences, earn their trust and establish credibility. Now it just up to you to get those speaker slots in your diary and make the most of the opportunities.
7. Build trust in your profile (on and offline)
Amazon, FedEx, Coca-Cola, Nike and Ford are some of the most trusted brands in the world. When your clients trust you it creates credibility but in business that credibility always needs to be earned. Prospective clients will look for indicators to help them decide if you are someone they can trust. People who don’t know you, will these days tend to look at your social media profiles or your website if they want to get a sense of what you are all about. They may see you speak publicly and decide on how well you handle yourself in a public situation; if you are the type of person they want to engage with. They might ask for references to find out if you deliver on your promises, whether you are serious about the quality of your work and if you consistently deliver to high standards.
Your credibility depends on what is said and what is discovered. But ultimately your client will need to experience your services for themselves. If you already have a high level of credibility within your target audience then they will have expectations that you will need to work hard to maintain. Do this over a lengthy period of time however and you will create a loyal base of clients who will stay with you indefinitely.
There is so much to consider while aiming to progress as entrepreneurs, solo operators or small businesses of any sort. But finding ways to establish and enhance your personal and professional credibility can be highly valuable as a basis for future success. Being trusted and having credibility with your target audience can in fact be the difference between winning clients and being overlooked. So its importance really should not be overlooked. Hopefully these tips will help you stay focussed on being the best business person that you can be.
Let me know in the comments below what your practices are to build your professional and personal credibility. I would love to hear them.