Establishing Credibility

Becoming credible is more than an act–it is determination.

I knew a man who thought by buying a PhD through the Internet it would give him instant credibility. He did not realize that his greed was so transparent and his business articles so deceiving, that you just had to question his credibility.  Just run your fingers over the keyboard and do a Google search and you would quickly learn that the degree he claimed to have earned was as phony as a three-dollar bill.

Credibility as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is “the quality or power of inspiring belief”. Using this definition, if we get people to believe in us and/or our company, we establish credibility.  A colleague, excited about a product that she had heard about, was quickly boasting about its results. When I questioned the producer’s credibility, her quick reply was “He’s got a PhD”.

In the pre-Ronald Regan era, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was establishing new regulations on employee safety and required detailed record keeping. It was and still is illegal to falsify records; I worked with an individual whose managers ordered him to falsify records. Refusing to lie, he was terminated.  He sued the company and won a multi-million dollar lawsuit and became an industry speaker as the Whistle Blower, about how he took on management and won.  What were his credentials? He had years of experience in the field, went through a lawsuit, and had friends at OSHA.  He established himself as an expert in OSHA compliancy.

If you are trying to establish yourself and/or your company as being a creditable source then we need to set up rules to govern our credibility existence.  Here are some ideas on how to establish credibility.

  • Love what you do – it is not about money or ego, but the passion you exude about the subject.
  • Be humble – there just may be somebody with more insight on the subject who can give you a different perspective or theory to expand. So don’t be quick to dismiss.
  • Offer solutions and ideas, expand people’s perspective on the topic and listen to how they accept the data.
  • Research the topic and keep up-to-date with the industry.
  • Be willing to share data that you have learned—many companies have established themselves as experts in a field by sharing in new innovative ideas and products – be knowledgeable of what the industry is doing and inform your customers.
  • Separate the pitchman from the educator—no selling, just information. When you have earned their trust, they will ask for your advice on who they should hire or what products they should buy.
  • Credibility is trust—people are not going to trust you just because you have a title, website, or have spoken in front of a large group.  You need to have a record of accomplishment of success and the willingness to keep learning, educating, and growing as an individual and as a company.