An entrepreneur lives or dies based on his or her credibility. You may have the world’s best product or service, but if customers can’t trust you, they won’t buy from you.
Personal credibility is not simply created out of nothing. It is cultivated over time. How do you cultivate this credibility? Here are 10 techniques that will turn you into a more credible source, and a more successful entrepreneur.
1. Own up to your screw ups.
If you blow it, admit it. Obviously, being wrong is not fun. It can be humiliating, actually. The greater your mistake, the greater your grief. Although humbling, however, such a frank admission of your shortcoming can raise your credibility.
You’re fallible. Others know it. When you admit it, you’re taking a huge step toward full responsibility and genuine ownership. That’s a step toward credibility.
2. Make your social-media accounts consistent.
Consistency is a key component of credibility. When each of your social-media profiles tells the same story, it develops consistency. Keeping up with your social profiles is part of the practice of building your personal brand.
3. Compliment other people.
False compliments are a surefire way to look artificial. No one likes an artificial smooth talker. But providing a heartfelt and genuine compliment is a different story. When you commend someone’s strengths their work or some other aspect, the person develops a reciprocal attitude of respect and appreciation.
You can provide compliments to colleagues in your workplace, clients, customers and other people in your life. When others see you endorsing another person, it reinforces their trust in you.
A great place for public endorsements is LinkedIn. Endorsements show that you respect, appreciate, and value other people. As a side benefit, other people may return the favor and endorse you.
4. Lose a negotiation.
Entrepreneurs are known for their ability to negotiate. But is winning a negotiation always a win for your personal credibility?
Take a hard analysis of your next negotiation. What do you stand to lose? What do you stand to gain? Keep in mind that if you win a negotiation, you may end up losing credibility. If you distort facts, arm twist your opponents, malign the competition or lose your cool, then you will also lose your credibility.
Which is more valuable, your long-term credibility or your short-term negotiation victory? If you lose a strategic negotiation to save your credibility, you may actually be winning in the long term.
5. Don’t preface your statements by saying ‘to be honest.’
In common parlance, many people use the phrase “to be honest.” When someone feels the need to assert their honesty, it subtly reduces their personal credibility.
What does this statement say about you? Are you typically dishonest? It is necessary to tell others that you are being honest?
“To be honest” is a phrase that can introduce misgivings about your personal credibility. Try to remove it from your usage.
6. Listen to others.
The more you talk, the greater your chance of shooting your credibility to pieces. Instead of doing most of the speaking, try to do more listening. Listening shows that you are teachable, and eager to learn about the other person.
7. Dress up.
Like it or not, your personal appearance has an enormous impact upon your credibility. To live the part, you’ve got to look the part. Focus on improving your credibility with your wardrobe. If you dress up, you will move up in the world.
A well-dressed individual automatically communicates professionalism, concern, personal awareness and complete credibility.
8. Say ‘I don’t know’ now and then.
No human being is omniscient. As smart as you are, you don’t know everything. In the course of your daily life, you may need to admit your ignorance.
It is tempting for the entrepreneur to have an answer or solution for every question or problem. You can’t expect to nail it every time. Rather than risk giving misinformation, it’s better to admit that you don’t know.
An authentic “I don’t know” can go miles in proving your credibility.
9. Write for other websites.
A strong signal of your credibility is what you contribute to the world at large. But how do you “contribute to the world at large?” Isn’t that kind of ethereal?
Actually, it’s quite simple. The way that entrepreneurs contribute is by sharing their knowledge and experience. One way of sharing knowledge and experience is by writing for other websites.
When you get content published on other sites, it is an immediate sign that you are a credible person. In order to qualify to write for the major sites you may have to start small. Keep a blog. Write for niche industry sites. Then, pitch your ideas and expertise to the bigger sites.
10. Earn an award.
An award is a strong recognition of your credibility, affirmed and recognized by a third party. How do you earn an award? You have to apply.
Many industry awards and recognitions don’t simply fall upon the unsuspecting; they are sought out by those who are confident in their capability and willing to accept a nod. This doesn’t mean that you must be arrogantly assertive, but rather realistically honest about what you’re good at.
When you can point to a public trophy case instead of your own personal claims, it goes a long way in reinforcing your credibility.
Keep in mind that credibility can be cultivated, but it can also be ruined. Take your credibility seriously, and over time others will do the same.
To protect and build your credibility, keep the credibility mentality at the forefront of your mind and motives. Credibility isn’t built by accident, and you’ll need to keep your intentions strong in order to raise your credibility to the right level -- a level where you become even more successful.