Credibility means more than a cardboard policemanCredibility is said to be important when promoting yourself and getting more leads for your firm. We are all told we need more credibility, but what is it and how should we get more? 

We tend to accept it without thinking; “of course credibility gets you more business” a practice manager recently told me. I saw a life size cardboard policeman (click to read that article), was it trying to add credibility to their security? Would it convince you?

What does credible mean?

Asking around got me several vague answers, which makes it hard to increase it! What do you think it is?

I believe credibility is how believable a person, or their message, is. That makes it essential in growing your firm, getting prospects to sign up, and attracting new prospects.

When I wrote confidence vs arrogance, my point was the big difference is the other person’s perception. Similarly here, your target audience must believe you are credible.

Elements of credibility

  • Relevant experience/ expertise: An obvious point. But what would you believe the most, somebodies claims of expertise, or statements from others? YouTube and LinkedIn testimonials are powerful here. Articles showing your thinking help show expertise. Qualifications may help, but if I don’t understand the difference between one industry body and another, they’re meaningless. I often say “educate don’t sell”, this is an example of why.
  • Trustworthiness  often gets mentioned, although I don’t have to trust you to think you’re credible! I might not use your firm if I don’t trust you, but I could still think you’re credible? Trust is important in getting business though!
  • Confidence in your ability: I need to think you have confidence in your ability. Somebody that is really uncertain doesn’t make me think they know what they’re doing, or any good at it. I recently spent time talking to a “social media expert”, who also sold food supplements and discounted phone calls. Regardless of anything he said about social media, I had zero confidence in his ability! Why was also trying to sell me other totally unrelated services? Because , in my mind, he couldn’t sell his main offering (is that just me?). Potential clients want to believe that you are busy, doing what you talk about. People desperately trying to sell (anything) damage their credibility.
  • How you deal with people: This can be subjective –  what I think might not be what you think. Is there congruence between somebodies body language and words? Does it appear they’re listening, or ignoring you? “If I think you’re arrogant and ignoring what I say, I start to believe you lack confidence in your ability (this depends on your views of arrogance).
  • The impression you give: Do you look and act the part? I’d like to believe that I could rise above such an irrelevancy. But I can’t, nor do most people. Looking and acting in a relevant way is important. However, this is not to say that you always have to conform to a stereotype, many lawyers and accountants I know try hard not to meet the stereotype. In fact it could be that the stereotype is off putting!

The next article this series looks at gaining business from credibility.

What do you think credibility is? 

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access