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10 Strategies to Establish Your Consulting Expertise And Credibility

By Michael Zipursky

In order to become successful in this business you need to establish your expertise.

That is, you must be considered an expert.

“People don’t hire you because you are a consultant. They hire you because you’re an expert in something.”

Avoid labeling yourself as a consultant. It’s vague, holds little meaning and certainly won’t help you in landing clients.

On the flip side, simply labeling yourself an expert does little to actually establish your expertise.

Anyone can call themselves a Business Expert, yet what makes them an expert in business is the real question. Have they been in business for many years? Have they successfully built and sold a company? Are they making a significant income? Do they know the inner workings of a specific type of business or industry?

Establishing expert status is therefore not only about your positioning and messaging, it’s also, and more importantly, about doing the right things to be seen as an expert and build your credibility.

I’ll share with you 4 ways to establish your credibility in a moment.

First, let’s look at how you can demonstrate your expertise.

Here are 10 methods you can use, the more the better, to raise the market’s awareness of you and be seen as an expert.

  1. Write a book.
  2. Create a white paper.
  3. Put on webinars.
  4. Develop an educational video.
  5. Offer a free value-packed report.
  6. Speak to organizations.
  7. Publish articles in local print media.
  8. Write guest articles for other blogs.
  9. Get interviewed on the radio.
  10. Offer your services to a non-profit.

Now let’s look at credibility.

In Larina Kase’s book Clients, Clients and More Clients she shares researcher B.J. Fogg‘s model on how people perceive credibility.

Here are the 4 key types:

  • Presumed – This type of credibility is based on ideas and assumptions people hold.
  • Reputed – This is based on other people’s experiences and can be seen through testimonials, referrals, and endorsements.
  • Surface – This is based on initial observation and first impressions and tends to be visual in nature.
  • Earned – This is based on our own experiences with something or someone and develops over time.

Anyone that wants to become a consultant, and a successful one at that, will find it worthwhile to give more though to these 4 points.

Let’s explore them together in more detail…

Presumed Credibility

One way of achieving this kind of credibility is to write a book. Another is to work for a well-known company. As soon as prospective clients learn one of these facts about you they are likely to presume you are an expert in your subject matter.

The main way you achieve this is by providing your clients with great results. Exceed their expectations. Deliver value.

Reputed Credibility

As the above list shows, to achieve this kind of credibility you want to amass as many testimonials as you can. Remember, there is a right way, and a wrong way to get testimonials from clients. If you haven’t been focusing on getting testimonials, referrals and endorsements in your business, now is the time to start.

Surface Credibility

This is where image comes in and when first impressions do matter. Does your consulting website look professional? Are you business cards well designed? If you have clients to your office, are they getting the right impression? And how about the way you dress? Each one of these comes together and influences how people perceive you and judge you.

Earned Credibility

This type of credibility is your dividends. Where Presumed, Reputed and Surface credibility help you get in the door and close the initial sale, earned credibility can take a bit longer to develop. The main way you achieve this is by providing your clients with great results. Exceed their expectations. Deliver value. As you work with your client you begin to earn more and more earned credibility.

Achieving credibility and expert status is a cycle. The more you push to be seen as an expert, the more you build your credibility, and the more people view you as an expert. The cycle keeps growing and strengthens your authority as you continue these activities over time.

14 thoughts on “10 Strategies to Establish Your Consulting Expertise And Credibility

  1. Your list of 10 ways to increase expert status is a good reminder of some things I need to do in 2013. Point #10 is something people rarely think about, but it has been big for me in 2012. I have provided services for 3 non-profit organizations, and through an affinity program that we developed, the non-profits promote our services to their members and supporters. It’s been a win-win-win. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Joseph – thanks for the comment and for sharing how working with non-profits has been for you. Nice work.

  2. Richard Starkey FCA says:

    I think first and foremost what you have achieved in your career positions you as an expert and lends credibility. I can never understand who would engage with someone calling themselves “A Business Growth Expert” when they’ve never grown and achieved success in their own business.

    • Richard – that’s a great point. More people need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

    • Anthony Kenyagoh says:

      That’s a valid point for a coach. Don’t let that hold you down, we all have to start somewhere. The value in consulting I believe comes from objective view

  3. Maria Trysla says:

    Very true… The opportunity exists to create a differentiation based on your background/experience. Your expertise is your differentiator in helping those targeted companies drive more revenue.

    • Maria – well said. It’s important that people ensure they are communicating their differentiation and how they help solve their markets’ problem.

  4. Trudy M Phillips says:

    Michael, can you expand a bit more on this comment? Remember, there is a right way, and a wrong way to get testimonials from clients. I clicked on the link but I felt the wrong way is missing. Thanks. Great article.

  5. Chris Hansen says:

    these are certainly good suggestions, and i would think that they would be even more relevant if they were defined as achievments relative to a customer’s need, problem and resolution. what was the case study, business case or economic value that justified the consultant’s presence. most importantly, what did they achieve for their client? i’ve seen a lot of people promote social interaction, white papers, etc. but in my opinion, the best communications of expertise and competency are spoken in the universal language of finance.

    • Chris – I appreciate your points here. Agreed, results are the most powerful way to establish and demonstrate credibility.

  6. says:

    Great article reading it helped me learn a few things.

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