There are 2 basic types of credibility in your business: inside the company structure (covered in a prior post) and with the potential distributors and clients. Let’s discuss the latter situations, particularly for a first-time business owner.
Part of building your business is to spread the word and gather new people into your organization, whether they join as distributors or clients.
Some of you will be fortunate to have people who join your distributor team or buy your product simply because you asked them to. I envy you, and please understand that I truly am happy for you. However, this post is not written for you, so please send the link to your colleagues who are building their business reputations against mild or strong resistance.
I’m here to talk to the people who are struggling, who are told “You’ve been a (job title) for years, what could YOU possibly know about building a business?”, or for whom this is their first adventure into owning a business.
This post is long. I cover 12 tips. Some of these were hard-earned lessons, and I want to save you the pain of discovering them yourself the hard way. Skim through the bolded topic headings and read the ones that are most interesting to you. Bookmark this post, come back next week, and read a few more.
Tip 1. DWYSYGTD
Do What You Say You’re Going To Do. This guideline is the foundation of all the other tips.
I’m not talking about loud public declarations that you’re going to rank-advance to “starship commander” level in your first 6 months, followed by a too-busy-to-sleep work schedule.
Instead, I mean show dependability in the everyday promises. Send the email if you say you will. Send the text or make the call when you say you will. Start the live broadcast, webinar or group meeting on time, and end on time. Be in “business hours” on the hours you have scheduled for that purpose.
And we all mess up…. when it happens, apologize, do the delayed task that same day, then make extra efforts to be dependable for this person in the future.
Tip 2. You will never be good enough for some people
The faster you accept this fact, the happier you will be along your business journey. You will recognize these people by their actions: if you mess up and sincerely apologize, they never trust you again because they expect nothing less than perfection. Or, they name numerous “conditions” you or the company needs to fulfill before they join your team or purchase your product. When those goals are accomplished, they simply add more conditions. This is otherwise known as “moving the goalpost.”
Even if they don’t join, they will still be watching you. Just smile to yourself and keep working.
Tip 3. Be consistent in your outreach
If you join a networking group, show up every time. Becoming a familiar face will help you be known as someone dependable. It is better to be a member of three groups that you attend regularly, than to join 10 but be sporadic in most or all of them. Likewise for social media or blogs: post consistently. For example, I post on this blog every Thursday.
Most non-business-focused social media platforms have birthday reminders. If you post a happy birthday message on their social media page, post a personalized messages (with similar impact) for all your contacts on that forum. Either log in each day to post the current messages, or log in every week and post those messages for the upcoming week. By doing so, you show people you are consistent and you pay attention to details… which add to your credibility.
Tip 4. Connect with your new contact in a memorable way
Texts, emails, and social media messages are quick, but a different approach is needed to stay top-of-mind for the long term.
Consider mailing a nice-to-meet-you physical greeting card to each person you meet in a business environment.
Paper cards may seem “old fashioned” by the major populace, but they have always been in style among people in the high economic brackets and leaders of large corporations.
Sending to those latter groups of people shows you understand the unwritten but important rules of operating as their peer.
The more money people make, the more important it becomes to thank them for their time, which is their most precious resource. If you wish to attract high income earners or influential business owners into your distributor team or have them as clients, DO THIS STEP.
With more and more companies adopting Relationship Marketing philosophies, personalized paper greeting cards are making a comeback.
With nearly everyone, paper cards will make you memorable in a good way, because people rarely receive fun mail. (When’s the last time you received something other than a bill or an advertisement in your postal box?) Many will display the card on their desk or somewhere in their home for months or years.
Avoid sending the note on business stationary… it’s not a memo or a financial quote for a project!
Use an online service that prints your quickly-typed personal message into a greeting card and physically mails it on your behalf, or buy some cards at the local store. If the recipients are from the same company, it’s fine to use the same cover design, but remember to use a unique personal message for each as they are likely to compare cards.
Please be aware that USA people born after approximately 1980 were NOT taught how to write or read cursive handwriting! So if in doubt, neatly print the body of the message, and sign it in a cursive style.
Tip 5. Choose ONE company to represent
Credible people focus on one business. If I want to choose an expert so I get good advice, I choose someone who concentrates their business on that area or that company. The ideal is, when people at networking events hear your company name, YOU come to mind.
Tip 6. Have a long-term view (be committed to your business 3 years minimum)
Longevity with ONE company shows people you’re serious about this. You automatically gain credibility by simply sticking around!
Your company’s product or service is the cornerstone of its profitability. A business, by definition, SELLS a product or service to generate revenue. So, do you LIKE the product? Are you proud to use it? Would you buy it if you weren’t getting paid to market it? If you can’t offer an enthusiastic Yes to all three questions in your current company, keep searching until you find a product that can.
Are you dismayed by the wait-and-see attitude of your family, friends, or networking contacts? Perhaps your friends and family have seen you excited about projects, then 2 weeks later you have moved onto something else. It’s likely that the people you are meeting at networking events have seen their friends join and quit in quick succession for various leveraged sales companies. In both cases there’s nothing you can do about their opinions. However, multiple-year longevity speaks for itself (and sometimes you need to remind yourself of Tip 2)!
Please note that I understand some people choose to move to other companies. I understand and respect people who change when the product quality degrades significantly, or the upper management steers the company away from long-term healthy growth. Know that you WILL lose some of your credibility by moving to a different company, and you will lose even more by quitting the profession altogether.
If you quit, your customers might choose to stay… and sometimes that locks you out of approaching them about your new product line (due to noncompete clauses for your former and/or new company). Don’t think you can ignore those noncompetes… the parent companies protect their organizations and will proceed with legal action. Besides it damages your credibility once the word gets out (and it will)!
Think twice or three times about jumping to another company because of the “shiny new thing” syndrome or because they are offering large “fast money.” If you want something to excite you again, take an adventurous vacation instead of jumping ship.
Tip 7. Be a connector
Think about the people in your networks: colleagues, networking groups, religious groups, sports clubs, etc. When you meet a new person, ask yourself, “Who in my network needs to meet this person?” Invite them both to coffee, or host a videoconference among the three of you if they are geographically remote. They will remember you were the one to connect them, which builds your credibility.
Tip 8. Be a continual student of your company and your profession
When your company announces a new product or service offering, learn about it. Keep your team and clients informed if your company does not send timely announcements. Think about your clients or potential clients who can be aided by this new offering, and let them know it is available.
You lose credibility if a colleague or potential teammate mentions the new offering and you have no idea what they are talking about!
Tip 9. Share information THEY are looking for
People are more than their job or business. Find out what they like to do for fun. “What do you like to do when you’re NOT working?” is a good question to ask. For example, when you learn someone likes kayaking, you can send them links to kayaking articles or announcements about a kayaking specialist coming to town. They may already know, but guaranteed they will be impressed that you remembered their hobby AND you took the time to share the tidbit. By doing so, you stay top of mind, and that creates a reputation of credibility automatically.
Tip 10. Look for ways you can write articles or post instructional videos
If you have a business-focused social media profile (different from your personal profile), you can post business-focused articles you write.
Does your local Chamber of Commerce, networking group, country club, school alumni association, or other organization publish an electronic newsletter? Most of these are looking for quality content, but be advised they will reject a self-promoting article. If you can write about your area of expertise/experience in general terms (such as the importance of applying sunscreen to prevent premature skin damage), then in your end-of-article author’s bio you can usually give people a way to reach you. And in this digital age, people can search for your name online and find your web site.
Posting videos on easily-searchable platforms is another way to gain credibility. That’s not my area of concentration, so search for instructors if you’re interested in this aspect.
Slow: Self-publishing a book (electronically or print) is a major multi-month or multi-year step. Such a project is, quite frankly, a distraction until you have advanced at least 2 ranks in your current company. I have talked with authors who are distributors in our profession, and they say they spent much more money than they made on publishing a book.
Tip 11. Speak well regarding your colleagues, other companies, or their distributors
You might get away with badmouthing in the short term, but when people find out this tactic you will become known as “two-faced,” and that automatically damages your credibility. At the same time, you are not obligated to speak in rousing terms about other companies, so I suggest you take a respectful positive tone when asked about them or when referring to them.
Tip 12. Say a sincere thank you.
Express your sincere verbal thanks immediately. Look them in the eye, say “Thank you,” and hold their gaze for another 2 seconds while you naturally let your mouth curve into a genuine and friendly smile. Connect with that person visually so they FEEL your sincerity.
If you want to make a longer-lasting impression, send a physical greeting card of gratitude. The higher up in the economic or business-decision-making level, the more appreciative the person will be to receive a physical card. And clients should definitely be thanked for their initial purchase, once a year minimum thereafter, and unexpectedly at least one time during the year. See a business profitability firm’s study to increase profits. See Tip 4 for guidelines for writing and sending cards.
–LYnn Selwa, “The Rocket Science Coach” ™
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