CredibilityIt’s harder than ever for a self-employed professional to land clients unless you appear credible. Once upon a time, you could get clients based on not much more than a business card, decent clothes, and your ability to present yourself well in a conversation.

Now what happens is that prospective clients check you out online before they decide to do business with you. Even when prospects are referred to you by someone they trust, they will typically visit your website, search online for your name, or look for you on social media. If what they learn doesn’t shout “credibility” to them, you’ll have a tough time getting their business.

Acquiring credibility doesn’t have to mean earning another degree or putting in five years of low-paying work. Sometimes all you need to do is make more visible the credibility you already possess. But even if you don’t have much demonstrable credibility to begin with, you can fix that. Here are 40 ways to start building (and displaying!) more professional credibility today.

Writing and PublishingWriting about your area of expertise can be one of the fastest and most visible ways to increase your credibility. When prospects type your name into a search engine, and see that you are regularly writing about your specialty, it immediately boosts your professional image. Consider any of the writing/publishing options below.

  1. Author your own blog.
  2. Guest post on the blogs of others.
  3. Publish articles in newsletters, magazines, or newspapers.
  4. Reprint your previously-published pieces in new settings.
  5. Write a case study or white paper.
  6. Create a tutorial or how-to guide.
  7. Conduct and publish a survey.
  8. Publish a short ebook or special report.
  9. Self-publish a book (it’s easier than ever).

Interviews and Publicity – Being interviewed, profiled, or quoted typically produces stories about you that can be found online. This means when prospects search for you by name, they see multiple mentions, not just a link to your own site. This alone will boost your credibility. Think about how you might get others to feature you in any of the venues below.

  1. Your professional association’s newsletter.
  2. Blogs about your specialty.
  3. Your industry’s trade press.
  4. Podcasts, webcasts, and web radio shows.
  5. Local radio and television programs.
  6. National radio and television programs relevant to your niche.

Public Speaking and Workshops – Speaking in public establishes you as a recognized expert in your field. There are numerous settings to speak virtually now, as well as speaking in person. Even when you speak IRL (in real life), mentions of your appearance typically show up online. Some possibilities for speaking and teaching appear below.

  1. Make a video of yourself to post on your site and share via YouTube and social media.
  2. Deliver a workshop for an online learning platform like Udemy or Skillshare.
  3. Teach a class for your local community college or extension program.
  4. Speak at professional meetings, networking groups, and industry conferences.
  5. Guest speak at webinars and teleclasses hosted by membership groups in your niche.
  6. Offer a webinar, teleclass, or live workshop of your own where you can demonstrate what you do.

Education and Credentials – If a critical look at your professional bio suggests your credentials appear somewhat light, improving them may be less painful than you think. More options exist than ever before for distance learning classes and short-term certificate programs. You can also seek out opportunities for competitions and awards to serve as credentials. Check out the options below.

  1. Compete for an award in your profession or industry.
  2. Take a workshop from an online learning platform like those listed in #16 above.
  3. Participate in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
  4. Take classes live or online from your local community college or extension program.
  5. Acquire a certificate in your specialty from an educational institution or vendor.
  6. Earn a certification from your professional body.

Recommendations and Endorsements – To convince prospects of your credibility, it helps to have third-party opinions on display. Using testimonials, recommendations, reviews, and endorsements can go a long way toward making you appear more credible. Consider pursuing some of the approaches below.

  1. Gather testimonials from satisfied clients to display on your site and in your marketing kit.
  2. Develop a portfolio of your best work that includes testimonials or thank-you notes.
  3. Gain the endorsement of a thought leader or prominent institution in your field.
  4. Belong to one or more professional associations.
  5. Serve as an officer or committee chair of a professional group.
  6. Donate your services to a well-known nonprofit organization.
  7. Cultivate a large social media following on at least one platform.
  8. Collect recommendations on LinkedIn, Yelp, Google My Business, or your Facebook business page.

Position Yourself as Credible – Many of the suggestions above won’t help your credibility unless you take steps to make sure your prospective clients know about them. Grant yourself permission to toot your own horn about your accomplishments, using the ideas below.

  1. Maintain an attractive, professional, up-to-date website that showcases what makes you credible.
  2. Describe your main credibility-boosters in the bio on your website and your LinkedIn profile.
  3. When publishing, speaking, or being interviewed, cite some of the items that make you credible, or have your host do so when introducing you.
  4. If a prospect asks, “why should I hire you?” include a credibility-booster in your answer.
  5. Whenever you acquire a new level of credibility, announce it to your mailing list and social media followers.

You don’t have to wait for others to pronounce you credible, nor do you have to delay seeking clients while you complete an expensive, time-consuming degree or training course. Choose some of the options above and get started on raising your credibility right away. You’ll be amazed how much difference just a small boost to your credibility level will make to your prospective clients.

C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out how you can work with C.J. as your business coach or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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