- If you don't look credible, you won't be
- Make sure the way you dress is not a problem to the other person
- Consider your posture - upright conveys more authority than slouched does
- Show sufficient energy in your enthusiasm and voice
- It's far more than how you look, though
- Articulate your understanding of what your client must be feeling
- Demonstrate understanding of the need and possible solution
- Give real examples of similar clients, what you did, and the results they got.
- Give an assurance that you are a safe pair of hands.
In my previous instalment, How to Establish Your Credibility Before Even Meeting Someone, we looked at three strategies any professional can employ that will boost their credibility in the eyes of potential clients.
To recap, they were:
- Grow your qualifications - because we all attribute greater authority to people with higher qualifications.
- Provide good online information about you - because people look online and you need to be there, and look professional.
- Create an authority piece - because we tend to think that she who wrote the book must be smarter!
In this post, we turn our attention to what you can do to build your credibility in person, i.e. when you meet someone, whether they be a potential client or even a senior stakeholder in your organisation.
I have three suggestions:
1. Look credible
Before you've even opened your mouth to speak, the other person is making value judgements about you and your credibility. It's a natural thing we humans do and of course, it's based first on what we see.
If you don't look credible then what you say will be undermined. If you do look credible then what you say is received more openly and with less suspicion. There needs to be a congruence between how you come across and the relationship and service you offer.
So what tends to look credible for most professional settings?
Dress appropriately to the situation. If you think your prospect would be more comfortable with a suit and tie, wear one. If you think they're slightly more smart casual, match it. My advice is, dress in such a way that it isn't a problem for the other person.
Convey good, upright posture because there's something about people who slouch or fidget. Without being artificially ramrod-straight, sit up in such as way that it looks like you're keen and interested. They will then assume you are!
Show some energy. We equate energy with positivity and enthusiasm. Again, too much is dominating and even false and too little comes across as disengaged. Think about what you'd expect to see in someone you were going to hire. And speak with a bit more firmness in your voice. It carries more authority.
2. Show an understanding of what the other person is facing
The professional who can demonstrate that they genuinely understand what the client is facing, both on a technical and emotional level, is streets ahead of the one who can only talk solutions. That's because as humans we're looking for empathy for our situation, even in complex commercial ones.
You can show this kind of understanding by simply articulating how people like the prospect in question typically feel. For example, "From my experience, Bill, most people in your situation find it immensely frustrating to deal with the shifting goalposts. Is that true for you too?"
This shows them that you genuinely understand. They need this assurance before they need to hear your recommendations.
3. Give a real life example
To add to this last point, you should outline a story that shows you have been there before, took action and helped the client get a great outcome. In other words, a track record story.
You might say, "Bill, about a month ago I was approached by a client who also had a complex situation they need sorting out. They were pretty bamboozled by it all. (Shows similarity) What I did was map out onto a large board all the issues they needed to resolve, and then gave them a simple plan to follow. (Shows expertise) As a result, he managed to put everything to bed with as little cost as possible." (Shows results)
What this does is show (a) the person sitting in front of you isn't the first one you've helped, (b) you know what they're facing and were able to practically help, and (c) you help get results.
All that brings assurance to your prospect, and builds your credibility in their mind.
You can build your credibility in person with people, by:
- Looking credible - through dress, posture and energy
- Showing them you understand - by suggesting typical issues others have faced in similar situations
- Giving a real life example - to convey some assurance of your history and experience in these matters, particularly the results you've helped people achieve.
And, if you add that to the three strategies for building credibility before you even meet someone, then you're on to a winner.