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Five tips to build personal credibility

Posted November 2

It takes time to build credibility. Real credibility is based on a number of factors and when it's earned has tremendous benefit. Here are five key traits that can help build credibility. (Deseret Photo)

An airplane mechanic — or as he puts it, a “plane fixer” — recently shared a conversation among other pilots. He said he works with a number of pilots that will not fly a plane until he's cleared it for flight. If other mechanics want to ground a plane, they turn to him for his opinion before proceeding.

Not everybody has this level of credibility. It takes time to build this degree of trust. This type of credibility is based on a number of factors and when earned has tremendous benefit. Here are five key traits that can help build this type of credibility, including:

Be the expert. In a business setting, you’ve been hired for your expertise and ability to perform certain functions. Share your expertise. Be the expert.

A few years ago a client had worked with a public relations agency. The first time they issued a press release with that agency, it was because they (the client) initiated the effort. The only contribution the agency made was to say the press release they drafted, “Looks good to us.”

After a couple of months, the client asked themselves what they were paying this agency for when they were doing all the work. They felt like they weren’t getting any expertise or value from them. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last very long.

Be accountable. Everybody wants to be acknowledged for a notable achievement. However, when things go wrong or the unexpected happens be quick to accept and own up to the consequences. It’s more difficult when things go awry but by being accountable for the good and the bad without making excuses you’ll garner a deeper level of credibility more quickly.

Do what you say you’ll do. A producer at a local TV station sent an introduction to another producer via email. In her email she included contact information and then finished the introduction by saying, “(He's) the best PR guy in the state. When he says he’ll do something he delivers when he says he’ll deliver. His word is as good as gold.”

Compliments like this are great. When you work hard to make sure you're sticking to your word in all aspects of your life it's gratifying to receive a compliment like this. Not everybody practices this same philosophy but when you do you'll be recognized as a person that keeps their word and is highly credible.

Follow through. This is similar to the last point, but takes it a step further. In addition to doing what you say you’ll do, following up on promises is important. For example, looking for a job is rarely fun. It’s made less fun when company’s fail to follow through. When a company tells a job candidate that they’ll be in touch by a certain day with a decision and then fail to do so, it hurts their credibility.

Return phone calls, texts and emails. If somebody reaches out to you in any form, there is generally a reason for it. You can’t be available all the time, but make a point of responding to all messages, including phone, email and text. A good rule of thumb is to prioritize the messages and respond to the most urgent first.

American author Rebecca Solnit said, “Credibility is a basic survival tool.”

As you follow the five steps listed above you’ll be able to do more than just survive, you’ll build credibility and become somebody that colleagues, clients, partners and other can depend on.

Jeremy Kartchner has more than 18 years experience in both technology and sports PR. He’s a sports fan, golfer, father of three and husband.

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