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Increasing your Credibility in 30 days: How to Brag without Bragging

Increasing your Credibility in 30 days: How to Brag without Bragging
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The meek have not inherited the earth and it appears they won’t anytime soon. The people who get ahead are the ones who know how to brag without coming across the wrong way. There is no one right way to do this but having enhanced credibility paves the way to becoming a successful braggart rather than a boor.

At its simplest, building credibility in the public realm involves creating credible content and spreading it around. The process of building a public profile is not an extremely difficult one but it does take a sustained, considered effort. Taking several well paced and relatively small steps over a 30 day period can yield handsome dividends.

1. Print out or ‘screen capture’ the first three pages of Google hits.
The internet and its search engines have become so ubiquitous that a reputation is becoming defined by what the first 3 pages of Yahoo! or Google search hits turns up. Forget about personal and professional references for making a first impression because the internet search gets done before that. Work on improving the hit list.

2. Review your scrapbook.
This involves going through the various past accomplishments, brochures, awards, correspondence, etc. and any sources of what could be considered public or quasi-public content and creating a pool to draw from for building the foundation.

3. Write an article that captures the essence of what you are doing that makes you great.
An easy type of article to write is one that incorporates a ten point list, targeting the key area or areas. Circulate the article or drafts while soliciting feedback from select friends, clients and partners.

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4. Submit one article to a general online publication.
Why an online publication? Simply, to become friendly to the internet search engines. Online publications are easier to get articles into, faster to get published, stick around a long time, are easily searched and provide valuable direct links to the company – all while improving the Google three page search hits profile.

5. Submit one article to a trade specific publication.
This is remarkably easy to do by simply reshaping the original article with relatively little effort and getting it into an online or print media format where there is no competition with paid writers. Many associations actively seek interesting contributions from their members, and also from non-members.

6. Submit one article to an offline publication.
Generally, this involves a need to call the editor and pitch the piece by way of sending a summary or sending a previous online one as a sample.

7. Find third party research and material that supports your views.
There is nothing wrong with promoting or citing other people’s materials where they reinforce your main message. In fact the opposite is usually true. A great way to enhance credibility is through association with others who are already perceived as credible with the audience you are trying to reach.

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8. Add any credible logos to your website or documents.
Logos from client companies, trade associations, major media that provided coverage, not-for-profit organizations and any other relevant ones should be included to enhance your public profile.

9. Post your profile on various social networking sites.
Many of these websites and networking systems have very high placements with google and other search engines. Include company and professional profiles, limiting jargon, in such a way that a wide audience can understand the information which should be well written and appear professional.

10. Get listed in media and professional directories.
Media people have a constant need to call on experts in various areas to get a quote they can use for whatever they are working on. You should become known as a person to go to for expertise in an area.

11. Send testimonials to credible people who will post it on their website.
These testimonials must be consistent with the core article and key messaging. They should go to people who would be good to associate with to add value and credibility.

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12. Nominate companies or people for awards.
Receiving an award or public acknowledgment is a great way to enhance credibility for the recipient. It also reflects well on whoever makes the nomination.
Nominating a company or individual for an award does not mean they should be automatically expecting to win. Fortunately, most know the difference between being nominated and winning so won’t start ordering champagne ahead of time.
Be prepared to show up at the event if your nominee wins!

13. Position yourself as an expert in your area.
Which area is not as important as being able to hold oneself out as a credible expert. To do so involves preparing a focused bio and creating an expert statement with some supporting materials. Media people habitually seek quotes from experts on whatever subject they are reporting on.

14. Ask for testimonials from credible people and companies.
Testimonial quotes must be consistent with the core article to reinforce the main message. To gain maximum impact, however, it is important to become involved with the best wherever possible. Incorporate written, audio or video testimonials and quotes into website, brochure, audio and video content.

15. Create framed thank you letters and send them to opinion leaders or admired companies.
Fan mail is usually appreciated by whomever receives it. Even when they are very busy while at the top of their game, they will often have time to read and respond to it. Companies often prominently place such letters in their front offices and hallways where they can remain for several years. What they rarely receive is a fan letter than comes in a frame and is ready for public display. You can call on these people later to ask them for favors.

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16. Post comments on trade-specific websites.
Much like in the case of testimonials, quality counts more than quantity. A couple key comments on a couple good sites will again boost search engine results. Use a real name to avoid it being one of the myriad anonymous bits that fill cyberspace.

A well-executed process for a person or small business intent on increasing credibility through an enhanced public profile will yield a sound profile in days rather than months or years. Initially, the process focuses on setting the foundation. Once a good foundation has been set, then it becomes time to engage the media. At the end of the process, one will have the respect that has been earned and not come across as boorish while bragging.

Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa are co-founders of Atomica Creative Group , a specialized strategic product marketing firm. Through leading edge insight and research, sound strategic planning and effective project management, Atomica helps companies achieve greater success in bringing new products to market and in improving their existing businesses. They have co-authored Overcoming Inventoritis now available.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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