How to Gain Credibility In Your Industry

Selena Soo

If your business is still young but you want to raise your brand’s credibility, you might feel stuck in the “chicken or the egg” dilemma: It seems like the clients, testimonials and high profile opportunities that give you credibility will only come your way once you have credibility.

As a publicity strategist for visionary entrepreneurs, experts and authors such as Farnoosh Torabi of Yahoo’s Financially Fit Web TV series, I’ve learned there are actually a lot of ways you can gain credibility immediately — no matter where you are in your business.

Credibility is so important because it helps you be seen as an expert in your field, allowing you to attract higher caliber clients, charge premium prices and grow your business and revenue faster. You’ve probably heard people say that it takes 10 years to become an overnight success, but I think it can take just two or three years — when you know how to do it in the right way. It was through implementing these five strategies from the first day I started my own business (just over a year ago!) that I was able quickly cross six figures.

1. Associate yourself with high-profile brands. You have a lot of control over how people perceive you. After all, you are the one telling people who you are. One way to do this is by associating yourself with brands people already know, like and trust.

Most of my clients want to be seen as the next great thought leader, to write a New York Times bestseller and be interviewed on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. When I am introducing myself to someone new, I say, “I work with visionary experts, authors and coaches in the ‘live your best life’ space, who are the next generation of Oprah personalities — the next Martha Beck, Brene Brown, Rachael Ray or Dr. Oz.” My ideal clients get excited because not only am I speaking to their deepest desire, but I am associating my work with powerful brands and personalities that have a high value in the marketplace.

As a money coach, you could say: “The work I do is Weight Watchers for your wallet.” Or, “My work is similar to Suze Orman’s.” Try saying this at a networking event, and you’ll find people are immediately captivated because you are talking about your work in an interesting way and connecting yourself with a powerful, mainstream brand.

2. Build relationships with industry leaders through giving generously. People often ask me how I've built relationships with top CEOs, magazine editors and Internet celebrities. Here’s the secret: by generously adding value.

I’m a big believer in building your network before you need it. Meaning: If you see an opportunity to help leaders or influencers, take action right away. Just remember — it’s really important that anything you do is first and foremost coming from a genuine desire to help without an expectation to get anything in return. That’s the only way to build authentic relationships with the people you really admire.

It’s human nature that when you give generously, down the line, other people will naturally want to help you too. As entrepreneurs, our biggest opportunities come from influential individuals who care about us and believe in us — whether it is recommending our services to people in their network, connecting us to media or speaking opportunities, or referring us to potential partners who can help us grow our businesses.

Networking should be done in a thoughtful way, but it doesn’t need to be overly strategic. The people who inspire you and who you are naturally drawn to help are likely people who might one day be able to help you as well.

When Danielle LaPorte, a thought leader I really admire, was launching her new book “The Firestarter Sessions,” I saw an opportunity to help. I reached out and asked Danielle if she would like me to pitch her book to O, The Oprah Magazine, and she emphatically replied, “YES!”

I put thought and care into it, creating a beautiful care package with red fire paper bursting out of the bag, a red fire chocolate bar, Firestarter tattoos and a copy of “The Firestarter Sessions.” I then hand-delivered it to Hearst Magazines and crafted an extremely personalized pitch letter to a specific O Magazine editor. By going above and beyond, I stood out to Danielle as someone who cares about her and adds value to her business and life.

3. Get endorsements from leaders. Once you begin giving generously, it is natural that the recipient will naturally express their thanks, often in an email. With their permission, you can use their response as a testimonial.

This is how I got the testimonial from Danielle, which is still on my website to this day. When I forwarded her the pitch I crafted for O Magazine and sent her a picture of the care package, she responded by saying, “Selena! This pitch is impeccable. Every angle, the whole spirit of it… For the love of God, THANK YOU.” I got her permission to use that email as a testimonial.

At the time, I hadn’t even started my own business yet. But by the time I launched my website and officially announced my business, I had testimonials from Danielle and many other thought leaders in my industry, as well as numerous magazine editors. This was a direct result of me building relationships where I was generously adding value over time. With these powerful endorsements, I was positioned as the go-to publicity expert from day one of my business.

4. Host your own events. When you bring amazing people together, you’re seen as a leader, and you’re adding value to each of their lives.

One of my favorite things to do is to organize champagne brunches with my friend Nitika Chopra, host of Veria Living’s Naturally Beautiful. We’ll invite magazine editors and other major influencers in my industry, and over a delicious meal, we’ll share what we’re each working on in our businesses and what kind of help we need. Powerful ideas get shared, big problems get solved and mutually beneficial introductions start getting made.

5. Contribute to industry publications or blogs. What are the most popular blogs or publications that your colleagues and ideal clients are reading? These are the places that will give you credibility amongst your peers and potential clients.

If you are a business expert, you could contribute to or DailyWorth. If you are a health expert, submit an article to MindBodyGreen. When you get visibility on an already credible and popular site, people assume that you are an expert and a leader. You can then add credibility to your brand by using those logos on your website.

Remember: It doesn’t need to take years to build credibility for your brand. You have the power to influence the way that other people see you right away. If you take just a few of these steps, you’ll be on the path to being seen as the next big star in your field, allowing you to grow your business much faster and make a bigger impact in the world.

Selena Soo is a business strategist and publicity coach for visionary entrepreneurs, experts and authors. Check out her exclusive webinar “Get VIP Access to Media + Influencers: 3 Secrets to Being Seen as the Next Big Star” — free for DailyWorth readers.

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