Do people think you’re great? Do they tell their friends? Or wear your colors (like the fans in the photo)?
People are naturally skeptical, but you can build your credibility online with something called “social proof.”
Here’s how it works. Say you belong to an online group. Bob emails you to say his friend Jill just joined. You go look at her profile, and see she’s also a friend of Betsy’s (another friend of yours). You think, well any friend of Bob and Betsy must be good people. You already like her (because your friends recommended her).
The same thing works for companies and products. If someone asks me for a good ebook designer, I strongly recommend Kathie Rokita. If that person trusts me (and I hope they do), they go to Kathie prepared to think she’s great (which she is).
How can you get social proof for yourself?
If someone asks you for a referral, make a recommendation. It works three ways. The person who asked is happy with you because you helped her. The person getting the referral is happy because you sent him a potential client. And, you’re happy because you helped someone.
Ask your clients for testimonials about the work you did for them. Solicit their opinions of your service (good and bad). Tell them it doesn’t have to be anything formal, just make a few notes. Asking for both the good and the bad will help you, and also help your clients (as you’ll know if anything is bothering them).
McDonald’s used to have a sign counting up the millions and millions of burgers sold. The idea was that all those numbers proved that their burgers were good (see, we’ve sold 60 million of them).
Reply to appropriate queries on HARO (help a reporter out) and get your name in the news. Being interviewed shows you’re an expert. Put out a press release when you come up with a new product (not about you, but about how the product solves a problem – there’s a difference). This can also generate more press and interviews.
Commenting on blogs, activity in forums (for your ideal customer) and answering questions all show your expertise. After a while, people will start to recognize you, your name, and your avatar, as they see you around the web. They’ll feel they know you.
Share your thoughts
What have you done to build your own credibility? Especially online? Share your tips.