Building credibility (part 1)

“What is the common point between the financial scandals of Enron, World COM and Arthur Andersen and the small company thatyou want to launch or the one you already have?”


The mistrust of people. People don’t forgive and forget easily these days and with the phenomenon of social bookmarking and Web 2.0, the news is propagated even more quickly.

If it is difficult for a large corporation to regain credibility (even with important PR spinsters working for them), imagine for you!

If you believe that you don’t have anything to lose because you’re a small entity, you are wrong! The world is a small place and information circulates quickly.

How to avoid errors building your credibility

Remember, it is as long to build as it is fast to crumble…think about those castles made with playing cards.

In part one, I’ll focus on you. On part two, we will focus on your company.

1. Appearance, The look.

OK, being an entrepreneur makes you a little rebel. That reassures you because you are not the « suit and tie »…type

However, unless you are dealing only with other young people of your age, you will be confronted with the prejudices of the others, the “old” crowd. Moreover, if you are a young company, there are no reasons to trust you, especially in the « goods and service industry » where the « human » factor is so important.

If you want to sell, do not give the other party a chance to say “no” even before negociations have started.

Some details can make all the difference like a good quality watch, polished shoes, and a nice pen. In short, it is necessary for you to have « style and personality ». However, remain coherent! If you operate in an artistic sector, adopt an artistic flair.

Likewise if you are in the business planning stage. One of the visusally saddest business plans I have seen was given to me by a graphic designer… Difficult for me to believe in its chances to succeed. The same thing for an accountant who had made errors in his financial plan! Even if I’m not a business plan fan anymore, they are still widely used. Even if you use other form of venture presentation, the same principle applies;you are what you project.

2. Adopt a positive attitude.

Out of the gate, you are full of energy, you’ve got everything to prove. Don’t let your eagerness betray you. Learn to “slow down and smell the roses” because you cannot afford to « burn” a contact or a customer at the beginning of your entrepreneur’s “career”.

Show confidence without being arrogant. It’s a fine line but a very important one. It is the difference between inspiring confidence and giving the impression of « bluffing » your way.

You must be even more “on top of things” that the others. Be sure to always be well prepared and take notes on your calls, meeting and networking acquaintances. To help you, personal data processing tools will keep you one step ahead.

Also make sure you to have done your work on your credit history BEFORE negotiating your first contract. The investigations of credit ratings and the like, are frequent at startup times. You could be surprised at the lenght of time a “spot” remains in your personal files when it comes to money.

3. Make your skills known

Attend conferences in your professional field and do not miss the chance to walk up to the microphone, present yourself clearly and ask relevant questions. If you make the audience think, reflect or dwell on what you are saying, you will be noticed. On the other hand, taking the microphone to show off could turn against you.

If someone offers you to give a conference, be generous. The idea is not to provide solutions, which would be too general in any case, but to pinpoint flaws, sow the seeds of doubt in their way of operating and give hints of solutions using real examples, all the time using the least possible technobabble.

Writing an article, even if it is short, will often have a major impact on your credibility as an expert. To have a blog is very useful and can be a powerful credibility building tool. Blogs have become a place of choice for journalists and TV recherchists of specialized programs to find expertise. They are always on the lookout qualified people.

Give your opinion in daily newspapers or in the specialized reviews on your topic of expertise. If a subject is too one-sided, offer to write another point of view on the same subject. if you really beleive in it.
Know the journalists who cover your sphere of activity. Don’t be afraid to call them and give them leads. If they call you back, answer quickly: they have deadlines to respect.