Heather Townsend, Guest Author
Credibility is an intangible quality which is difficult to define accurately as it means different things to different people. I personally define someone who is credible as a person who has developed a reputation as someone who “walks the walk and talks the talk” and delivers on all their commitments. Ivan Misner, founder of BMI, defines credibility as “the quality of being reliable, worthy of confidence.”
Before someone is willing to risk their reputation by recommending you to someone within their network, they want to know that you are credible, i.e., committed, will conduct yourself appropriately and will be able to deliver on something they put you forward for.
Robin, a coach, had a friend called Steve who was a committee member of two local photographic clubs. Both clubs were small but had different kinds of members. One had a long, extensive history and an older membership; the other was much younger and had a good mix of ages. Steve was treasurer for one and secretary for the other “because no one else would volunteer.” But holding committee posts in two clubs was adversely affecting his credibility. You may be wondering why.
His credibility was low because both clubs saw he had divided loyalties. Robin asked him, “In your heart of hearts, what do you want to be doing?” Steve said, “Taking good photos.” “So, which club is going to provide you with the best stimulus for that?’ “The younger on,” “So what are you going to do” “Resign from the other club!” Steve did that and his photos are now being critically acclaimed around the world. One photo has been viewed 21,000 times in its first weeks on the Internet.
Until you get the opportunity to actually win business or get and interview, like Steve at the photography clubs, your credibility is built up via the perception of your personal brand, and your behavior and attitudes. For example, if you want to be seen as “credible” when networking, you need to:
• do what you say you are going to do, e.g., phone people when you say you are going to
• arrive on time to meetings and events
• share client and customer success stories and testimonials
• have business cards with your contact details, plus details of your personal associations and memberships, professional qualifications and any awards won
• keep your messages consistent over time
• focus on building the relationship rather than selling
• find simple ways to help the person you are meeting, for example connecting them with someone in your network
• get introductions to people you want to meet from “credible” people within your network.
I found my first coaching client, who was not an employee of my old employers, as a direct result of a recommendation from a partner within my old firm. This trusted recommendation helped my credibility and was a key factor in the client’s decision to first talk with me and subsequently hire me as his coach.
Make sure that when you are out networking, you are focused on finding out “who you know” rather than the heinous crime of selling. There is nothing quite damming for your credibility than a sign on your forehead that says “I am desperate for business” or “I am selling.”
Your credibility is normally tested after a networking event or after meeting someone. Why? Remember that your credibility is directly linked to your ability to “walk the wal and talk the talk” and deliver on all your commitments. Potential clients or employees are always looking fr someone who is keen and eager to work with them.
It may only be something small, such as sending a short e-mail saying you enjoyed meeting the, but the small and often inconsequential stuff is taken as evidence of how you may behave if they hired or employed you. I was amazed, when I started face-to-face networking in earnest, how few people actually did follow up after a networking event. On the basis of my personal experiences, I can promise you that a simple e-mail or handwritten note stating how much you enjoyed meeting someone will make you positively stand out from your peers.
Copyright © 2014 – Heather Townsend. From the book, “The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking.” Heather helps professionals and firms become the Go-To-Expert. Unusually for someone with an Engineering Degree, she accidentally became a writer and used her knowledge on social media to write the current best-selling and award-winning book on networking, “The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking.” (75+ five star reviews on Amazon). She is a widely published writer, international speaker, Executive Coach and a referral marketing expert. Visit Heather’s Website!
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