Five tips on gaining credibility as a start-up

September 27, 2013

Effective-communication

Every young organization faces the same credibility struggle: How do you acquire credibility so you can gain more credibility? How do you showcase you are the real deal if you’re new in entrepreneurial land?

Shameless promotion doesn’t go very far, while tasteful sharing of expertise goes a long way. Hone your message. Keep practising it to perfection while growing your professional network with people and businesses that respect you for your knowledge and opinion.

Here are five tips for you on how you can gain credibility:

1.      Ask for testimonials

From your first client onwards, ask for a written or spoken testimonial. Clients are happy to share their experience with you when it was a good one. What you want them to testify to is: did you do what you said you would do?

When a client tells you helped them achieve a task, ask if the client is willing to share that publicly. Another good time to ask is when a program has been successfully completed.

Client successes and testimonials create trust with your audience. Clients talking about what it is they liked about your services in their own words is very powerful. A simple format is where clients share where they were before, one or two tangible results and where they are now.

A testimonial can be shared on your website, or through social media like your company’s Facebook page or Twitter account. Potential clients often look you up on the professional social media site LinkedIn. A written reference displayed on your LinkedIn profile testifies customers, colleagues and peer professionals are comfortable being associated with you and your work.

Oh, and don’t forget to thank your clients for their testimonials!

2.      Blog about your expertise

Most people think it is a bad idea to have a blog without a proper website, but the opposite is true. A modest following of your blog creates an instant trustworthiness. When you are ready to have a website developed for your company, the blog articles can be easily integrated. This gives your new website continued trust that could translated into new customers.

Blogging is about your willingness to share your expertise strategically. You are writing fresh, attractive and relevant content with your unique perspective. The blog is your company’s voice that engages its audience, so make sure you know who you are blogging to and why. Feel free to speak about market trends, company initiatives, and news.

Blogs that are backed and quoted by peer professionals or former and current customers gain credibility. Moreover, ‘blog credibility‘ reflects your business or community organization’s growing reputation. Get started now!

There is a small catch here in my opinion. While free blogging options are great, your company name is typically displayed as a subdomain (e.g. yourcompany.blogspot.com). Investing a few dollars and buying a proper domain is immediately more professional looking and comes with:

  • A good domain name for your future website,
  • One URL for readers to become accustomed to and remember, and
  • A free professional email address for free (e.g. yourname@yourdomain.com  vs. yourname@gmail.com).

The web is nowadays indispensible, so invest in a long-term strategy and buy a proper domain name. It might be beneficial to ask a Graphic Designer or Web Developer in your network for advice.

3.      Network in-person

Though an online presence is the very least expected of young businesses and community organizations, talking to people in-person is central to promoting what you do and who you are. Share resources with people looking for support and contribute positively to conversations without pitching them.

Being a focal point at an event shows attendees you have worth speaking with. If you’re up for it, lead some networking meetings. Become a speaker at a conference. Don’t be afraid to ask a valid question or share a valuable comment at a seminar or webinar.

As the spotlight shines brightly on you, share your organization’s events and networks in a pleasant manner. Promoting what you do and how you do it does not need to be pushy!

4.      Using social media

Social media is an easy way to connect instantly with peer professionals in your field, wherever they may be physically located. Using popular social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest helps you disseminate blog articles of interest — written by you or others — to your customers,. They are also useful in showcasing testimonials and promoting events. Before setting up accounts enthusiastically, research which social media channels your customers prefer.

As I have pointed out earlier, be professional. This includes having the proper domain name for your (future) website and using your business name for social media channels as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. By doing so, you begin to build a recognizable brand for yourself and your organization.

Mindful readers will notice I have not pointed out LinkedIn in my earlier paragraph. That is because on LinkedIn you will connect with others by using your own name. Create a separate company profile with your logo and link this to your personal profile. Use keywords to describe what you do and how you came to setting up your own business through former and related experience in your career.

5.      Communicate with strategic focus

Show your organization’s growth of reputation and credibility through a creative and steady stream of strategic communications. This includes, for example, highlighting that you attracted an admired industry professional as a member of your Board of Directors. Sharing an important relationship with an investor and / or peer professional should also be shared.

Another example is showing the growth of your blog audience is with a small impromptu party. Photos can be shared online. Testimonial sharing is also a sure-fire hit, especially when part of a series that highlights different perspectives from your business.

You’ll of course want to be professional at all times. Use your company’s voice to describe yourself and your work in simple and short phrases with memorable key words.

This blog post is about using your strategic voice on social media, but it is useful to go through the same steps for all types of communications.

Author

Lisette Andreyko

Lisette is the founder of Kaleidoscope and is passionate about start-up leadership, personal growth and women in business (and psst.. about tea!). She enjoys connecting with small businesses through her network. You can find her on LinkedIn.