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.
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.
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.
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.
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.