Do you have street cred?
Nah, me neither. At least, not yet.
For 18 years, I played an integral role on my family farm. I knew the ins and outs of our feed ration for the beef cattle. I knew the fields dad planted to corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay. I had a decent knowledge of our machinery, which ones had some “technical difficulties” and how to handle them with care. I was the advocate for our business and industry.
Then, things changed. I left for college and became disconnected. It got even more difficult to stay in “the know” while trying to do well in college courses, increase involvement in student organizations and build a “credibility” for myself on campus.
I studied agricultural communication and had many first-hand experiences in writing, photography and public relations. Technology came easy for me. I became an expert with InDesign and Photoshop. My Stylebook could rest easily on a shelf; I had it memorized and ingrained in my brain.
Graduation came and went and I started a sales training program. There I went–back to square one! I had a new product portfolio to learn, and eventually, a new territory, new set of customers and new set of needs to fulfill. Gosh, when you start with one toolbox to prove your worth and switch to a different toolbox, it gets challenging!
How do you build credibility with all these changes and experiences? It is a matter of time, patience and learning. Here are the three steps I’ve taken to build credibility in different experiences and will continue doing so in life.
Step 1. Learn the procedure.
Think back to the first time you rode a bike. Did someone demonstrate? Did you have training wheels? Was your bike a gift or did your parent/guardian take you shopping to pick out the one you wanted? Then what?
You probably had to take time to learn the steps, the process and the procedure to do it, right? Same thing goes for starting a new job, working into a new industry or starting a business. You need to research, take time to learn and get the basics down.
Step 2. Take risks.
Ouch, you fell and scraped your knee. You had your first debut public speaking to a large audience and forgot your speech. You spent extra money for an investment you thought would pay off and you ended up losing more money than making money. Good for you; you are learning to take risks!
I hate the word “failure”. The only thing that is a failure is complacency. In step one, you learned the process. Now, it’s time to perform, continue learning, and growing. Take risks to experiment. Become more creative. These are things they teach in young school but after we learn the process, we often become complacent.
To be seen as more credible, you have to have more experience than the “standard protocol”. Then, you will truly know if an idea or action will or will not work.
Step 3. Contribute.
The best teachers are often the best learners. I have been involved with the bodybuilding industry for over one year. It has been a life-changing experience and I continue learning each day. My credibility is growing but I know it has a long lifespan ahead. I share what I know with those who seek or are interested. I am also aware of what I don’t know yet or am still a novice.
To be seen as credible in any area or experience, it takes this contribution and continued commitment to development. Get your wits about you, take risks and think outside the box and contribute those experiences with your audience.
With these three steps, I believe anyone can build credibility. What’s stopping you?