The Simplest, Most Effective Way to Build Credibility

 

Credibility is huge.

No matter what role you’re currently in, if you are interacting with other human beings you will probably be best served by having a reputation of credibility.

Regardless of the company name on your business card, in the modern day world of transparency made possible by social media sites such as LinkedIn, your results will largely depend on your personal brand.

In this post I will share what I believe to be the simplest way to build credibility – it takes little (or no) extra time of effort, it is extremely effective and it is often times overlooked.

First, some housekeeping. My intention is not to help you trick people into believing you’re more credible than you are. If you habitually underdeliver – clean that up. That is no way to nurture relationships or profits so fix that, stat.

Glad we straightened that out. Now you’re ready. Here it is – the fastest, simplest, most effective way to strengthen your personal brand by building trust and credibility – drum roll please….

Tell your clients where and when to expect you – and then show up there.

That’s it.

Tell your clients where and when to expect you, keep your word, and show up. Jackpot. (For realz tho.)

I don’t mean solely in the physical realm – as in, “Katie, I will meet you at 12:00pm in front of the Starbucks on Main Street” and then be there (although, yeah, do that too), I mean in every sense. For example, be specific about the date and time and you’re going to send the email with the proposal – and then send it at that date and time.

And herein lies the magic as well as the missed opportunity…

Let’s run through three scenarios pretending that you are my prospective client:

Scenario “A”:

It’s Monday afternoon and we just finished a lunch meeting. As we’re getting ready to part ways I sincerely thank you for the meeting and the opportunity to partner. I close by telling you “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work – and that you should have my proposal later today.

BUT WAIT. I didn’t say later today! I didn’t say anything! I left it open ended because, truthfully, I’m not really sure when I’ll get to it. That’s fine, right? Can’t under-deliver on a non-promise, right?

 

Scenario “B”:

This time I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you by noon on Wednesday, would that work for you?”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work well and that you’ll have my proposal on Wednesday.

 

Scenario “C”:

I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you!”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You pull out your iPhone so that you can post a picture of your lunch on Instagram and ‘check-in’ to the restaurant we just dined at via Facebook.

 

Let’s say in all three scenarios you receive my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday.

Here’s how the ‘credibility set-up’ (or lack thereof) plays out in reality:

In scenario “A” I was not specific and you interpreted my closing statement to mean “Proposal. Immediately. Top priority.”

If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday you may perceive me as a slacker. In a best case scenario you might email me politely Tuesday morning asking where the document is (in which case I actually make perceive you as a nag!) In worst case you may have already moved on to another provider feeling slighted.

I didn’t tell you when to expect me so chances are when I arrive on my timeline, it’ll be out of whack with your expectations.

 

In scenario “B” I was very specific – you’ll have the proposal by noon on Wednesday.

If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday I am a hero! I’m on my game! I’m EARLY! … and I get bonus points if I include in my email some language that references “I know I said I’d have this to you by noon tomorrow but I am really excited about working together. I reorganized some things on my end so that I could get it over to you a little sooner.”

Same result (proposal arrives at 3:34pm Tuesday), totally different impact (I’m a hero).

Another important thing to note – I am JUST as credible if this document hits your inbox by 11:59am on Wednesday. No need to come in a day early… but if you’re able, why not?

 

In scenario “C” I wasn’t specific and you probably don’t care. I would call this a “neutral” position.

Is there big risk here? No. But is there any opportunity for reward? Not really.

The only thing required for me to earn the coveted deposit in the credibility bank is that I say where I will be and I show up there. So in scenario “C” I haven’t hurt myself – but I haven’t helped myself either. This is a common example of a missed opportunity.

 

The specifics make all the difference.

It’s imperative to create alignment early and often with prospects and clients. If you think it’s not possible for your prospect to take your “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!” to mean “within the hour” you are sorely mistaken.

As a rule of thumb, every time you’re NOT specific imagine that the prospect has taken your statement to mean “immediately” and the clock has already begun ticking. Is that fair? Maybe not. Is that the case 100% of the time? No, it certainly isn’t. But why risk it?
Implementing this strategy just takes practice. Demand specificity from yourself on all deadlines, commitments, and next steps. Leave nothing open for interpretation.

And when you leave without being specific (as you will… as I still do) call the prospect back ASAP.

Make the call as you’re driving away from the restaurant and say “Hey Katie, I’m so sorry. I know I just said I’d ‘get that proposal to you’ but I should have been clearer. I plan to have it to you by noon on Wednesday, does that work?”

That one minute phone call is a priceless opportunity to earn a deposit in the credibility bank… and avoid a potential deduction!

 

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