There was a time when I thought that the only route to creating an impact was through increasing credibility. And at that time, credibility for me meant developing my knowledge through some form of accreditation or external recognition. Hold up the option of a course and I was there. Yes, in part for the opportunity to learn and develop, but also undoubtedly because I felt it would lead to increased credibility.
My simple formula was this:
Credibility = Impact
Looking around I don’t think I was the only one who thought that way. After all, it’s what we’re asked to do; it’s what we’re encouraged to do; and actually it’s often seen as a measure of success.
Credibility isn’t one dimensional
My mistake wasn’t in thinking that credibility can create impact – it can. It’s just that firstly, credibility isn’t one dimensional; and secondly, it’s only half of the equation. There is another factor which is equally important – but more on that in a moment.
Credibility is a combination of experience and expertise – experience being the practical contact with, or observation of facts or events; and expertise being skilfulness, prowess or knowledge within a particular field. Finally and in addition to these two elements, credibility is linked to integrity; or to put it another way, doing what you say you will.
Therefore if you want to raise your credibility there are broadly three ways to do so:
1. Gain the experience and demonstrate results
If people can see that you have achieved in a particular area and have demonstrated success, then this can lead to increased credibility. It’s also worth noting that the experience doesn’t have to be in the exact same area you wish to demonstrate credibility in – it can be in a related field. What’s important is being able to point to a ‘cycle of success’ – a period of time where you can take ownership of the results and show that it wasn’t a one-off, or a consequence of being in the right place at the right time.
2. Become an expert
Tim Ferris suggests in his New York Times Bestseller, The Four Hour Work Week, that becoming an expert is easier than you may imagine. His assertion is based on concentrating effort within a particular niche and he provides six steps to achieve expert status. They are to:
- Join two or three related trade organisations
- Read the three top-selling books on your topic
- Give one free seminar at the closest well-known university
- Give two free seminars at branches of well-known big companies
- Offer to write one or two articles for trade magazines
Regardless of whether you agree with his approach or whether you prefer a more ‘conventional’ route to expert status gained over time through increasing knowledge, the key is to take an interest in something; and then use that interest to fuel your desire to learn more and increase your exposure.
3. Do what you say you will
I talked here about the importance of doing what you say you will in order to stand out from the majority. And the great thing about this element of credibility is that it’s firmly in your control. Sure, it requires self-discipline and the ability to not over-commit. But that’s about it.
However, whilst credibility is important – no one wants poor experience, low knowledge or skill, or a lack of action – it’s not the full story. There is another part to the equation, which is also the catalyst – the thing which can take any credibility gained and amplify the potential impact. And that part is Connection.
The power of Connection
Connection can be between you and another – your team, your friends, you followers, your customers or your suppliers – and it can also be that which you create between others – between individuals or groups.
Connection comes from generosity – from giving something without expectation. Because when you give generously, you create a connection and you cause an effect. It could be a change in mindset or a change in behaviour, but when people notice that change has occurred, they feel an impact.
It could be a connection based on generosity of time, money, energy or knowledge. It could be through giving resources, an idea or a favour. But ultimately it is that generosity – in giving to someone else – which makes a difference.
There’s no script in here or to-do list. What you do in order to be generous and generate a connection with one person may not be what you do with the next. Similarly, what resonates with one person may not resonate with the next.
Even so, the rule is a simple one.
Give more than you have to give and you’ll receive more than you need.
And it’s that generosity of spirit which creates a connection.
What’s the point?
The formula should read:
Credibility + Connection = Impact
Credibility is essential for success. Without it, you’re lost. Credibility tells everyone around you what they can expect from you and it becomes enmeshed with your reputation and so is a determinant of success.
And fortunately to the most part, it’s something which is within your control. Want to gain more experience? Go and get it. Want to develop expertise? Go and learn it. Want to show people they can trust you? Do what you say you will.
However it’s easy to think that it’s just credibility which will be rewarded. But it’s not. We’re rewarded for being generous and for connecting with people. If you can connect with someone and make a difference, people will want to spend time with you – to interact and to engage.
And it’s that combination of credibility and connection which can really make the biggest impact.