Whether you run a business or are looking to further your career, it’s easy to get lost among the noise of the competition. Everybody’s trying to achieve the same thing through social media – to stand out and get noticed.
We’re in a reputation-driven age where what people say to others about you is incredibly powerful. The currency of this economy is your credibility.
Customers want to do business with trustworthy and reputable operators. Highly trusted, authentic and articulate employees get promotions. You can be the best technical expert in the world, but if you can’t communicate with credibility you’re likely to struggle to get traction against those who can.
While it’s important to develop technical and professional skills, one of the biggest career gifts you can give yourself is to actively build your credibility.
It’s important to recognise that credibility can’t be manufactured, although plenty have tried. But you can work on seven areas of yourself, or your business, and build on the credibility you already have.
Here are the seven key steps, all beginning with C.
Be crystal clear about what you stand for; your core values as an individual or as a business. What are the things that are most important to you? What are the values that you express in everything you do?
It takes time to achieve this, and it’s worth it. Often we focus on the “stuff” we do or produce, and think this is what we are – rather than considering the broader results we achieve and and how we contribute to the world around us.
Your own personal brand, or that of your business, has its roots deep in your bigger purpose.
It’s all very well to be clear on why you’re here and where you want to go – now you must convey it with consistency. That includes the way you speak, how you write, how you generally come across to people. We’re all quick to pick up on any elements that don’t “add up” about a person or a business. Lack of consistency is the arch-enemy of credibility.
If you run a business or manage a team, is your organization consistent in all its interactions or does it say one thing and do another? Make sure your business body language is congruent with your marketing. That can be a challenge if you’re running a large team. How do you know whether they always behave in alignment with your stated values? Make it your business to find out.
This one almost goes without saying but it’s worth highlighting, and in this instance I’m focussing on written communication. So much of our interaction with people is written - through social media, email and other electronic means, and sometimes we still even put pen to paper.
I work with senior executives and savvy business owners who are at the top of their game in a technical sense, but they’re held back because they don’t know how to write well. They can’t express a point clearly and persuasively, in a way that engages the reader. They’re lost when it comes to telling the reader exactly what needs to happen next. As a result, they’re losing opportunities and business.
If written communication isn’t your strength, get help. Work on this area. Strong communicators have the credibility edge.
Some are born with it, others slowly get better at interacting with people and eventually become engaging in their verbal communication. Either way, it’s a skill worth fostering if you want to be considered credible.
You don’t have to be the world’s greatest orator, but your credibility gets a boost if you can speak eloquently in front of an audience or in a group setting while being equally at ease in one-on-one conversation.
Similarly, some people have confidence bursting from their very pores and others need to work at it. In any case, a confidence deficit drives credibility away.
Comments about authenticity aside, confidence is one area where you can fake it ‘til you make it. Think Julie Andrews striding toward the Von Trapp mansion singing I Have Confidence In Me. (No? Well, just think of a time when you psyched yourself up to do something tricky:). There are techniques you can use to come across more confidently than you may feel.
No shrinking violet was known for their credibility and they’re generally not the ones who get the great jobs and win the lucrative deals. So, whether it’s self-talk, distractions, your skill level, or any other kind of blockage to your confidence, tackle it now and build your credibility.
To be credible, especially in the social media age, you need to be a content- making machine - a subject matter expert not only great in your role but also able to share your knowledge and inspire others.
There’s no shortage of froth and fizz in social media land, so how can you stand out as someone whose voice deserves to be heard? If you’re in an organization, find avenues to express your views – be an in-house thought leader. If you run a business, don’t just market your product or service; look at ways to promote yourself through the valuable content you give your customers and potential clients.
Here’s where it all comes together; the total package of a highly credible person or business, deserving of a solid reputation.
There’s plenty of evidence to show that businesses and individuals with strong reputations reap rewards in terms of career progression, the ability to charge a premium, attracting better staff, having a competitive advantage, and being able to bounce back quickly if negative issues arise.
Credibility is worth paying attention to. Remember, you have to deserve it to begin with. You can’t fabricate it. Neglect it and you risk damaging your career or business prospects.
Work your way through the Cs to build your credibility and the reputation capital of your business
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