10 networking tips to boost your credentials

networking tips

Networking tips – 10 Ways to Boost Your Business’ Credibility 

When you’re promoting your business, whether online or via word-of-mouth networking, credibility is key. To some of the people to whom you’ll be talking, you’re a total stranger. They have no way of knowing whether promoting you to their contacts would be a good idea or an embarrassing mistake. To help you establish your credibility in the eyes of your new contacts and potential referral partners, I’m going to give you a checklist of the top 10 credibility-building networking tips s you can use to get more referrals and word-of-mouth marketing, starting in your very next event.

Networking Tip #1: Testimonial letters from satisfied clients

Testimonials are one of the most effective ways to showcase the quality of your products or services.

You can print them and carry them in a binder, post them on your website, or preferably both. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you could also have people recommend you.

I encourage you to do a combination of all of the above. Not just one piece, but all of it.

If you only have time for one, start with the printed testimonials that you can show during face-to-face networking events.

Networking Tip #2: Photos of yourself, your office and your product

People are highly visual, so photos of yourself, your office and your product are invaluable in helping them to connect with you and your company.

We have a photo of BNI Headquarters that we use to show people where our international HQ is. Oftentimes at BNI chapters, people only see the tip of the iceberg, because they’re only aware of what happens at their meeting.

But when they see the 33,000 square foot building from which our main headquarters operates, it helps them to realize that they’re involved in something really big. They’re part of a large, established organization that’s enjoyed a great deal of success, and that can help them to succeed as well.

A professional headshot is especially important for promotional opportunities. In this digital age, I often see people stand up against the wall and have their spouse take a picture, but that seldom results in the ideal photo for your business. It’s better to have it done by a pro.

Networking Tip #3: Your customers’ logos

This is one credible source that many people don’t think about, but that can greatly boost your image as a person who has gotten great results for a lot of people.

With your clients’ permission, display their logos on your website and printed material, to show potential clients and referral partners some of the types of clients that you’ve successfully served and supported.

Networking Tip #4: A list of your memberships and affiliations

When you meet a potential referral partner for the first time and do a GAINS exchange with them, it’s important to share your interests and the networks you belong to.

This helps to show that you’re active in building your life and your success, and that you’re well-connected and therefore valuable as a referral partner. It also provides people with a potential common ground on which to build a stronger connection with you.

Saying something like “Proud member of BNI” on your printed materials, website and business card is a great way to start a dialogue with someone, especially if you see that they, too, are a member.

Networking Tip #5: A question and answer sheet

One of the quickest ways to learn about a person’s business, or for them to learn about yours, is to have an FAQ on your website and among your printed materials.

When you meet with someone face to face, it can be very valuable to have a sheet with the answers to the questions that people most frequently ask, and a list of questions you like to ask in order to get the information you need about your new contact.

Networking Tip #6: Photos of awards or certificates that you or your staff have earned

When you or your staff have achieved a level of excellence and accomplishment that is worthy of an award, that’s great for PR and credibility, so be sure to take a picture and show it off. This tells people that you deliver high quality, and they can trust your products and services.

The same goes for charitable work. BNI has a foundation, and when we give a big check, we make sure to take a photograph.

For example, we gave a check for $50,000 to the Red Cross for the Japan relief effort a month or so ago. Since then, we’ve gotten an additional $10,000 to $15,000 for the hurricane efforts that we’re working on in the U.S.

Each time we give away one of those checks, we take a picture of it. We do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. It shows members what we’re doing, and how we’re helping our communities and the world.
  1. It builds brand recognition and credibility, and shows that we’re a stable organization that’s been around for a long time, and that’s giving back to the community.

Things like that are very valuable for building trust and goodwill toward your business.

Networking Tip #7: Articles that you’ve published or been mentioned in

This is a huge credibility builder, because it establishes you as an authority who has valuable material to share, or who is influential enough to be mentioned in other people’s material.

Your website could include a list of publications where you’ve been featured, with links to the articles if they can be found online, and a list of links to articles you’ve published.

And your printed materials could include the URL for that list of links, or a list of publications where you’ve been featured, or both.

Networking Tip #8: Brochures, circulars, data sheets and product catalogs

These lend a higher level of professionalism to your presentations, make it easy for people to see your offerings at a glance, and give the impression that you’re an established and well-run business with a clear and organized presentation method.

This is especially valuable when you’re speaking with people face to face, and when you’re dealing with people who are better at processing things visually than verbally.

Networking Tip #9: Items that help you explain your business to your network

This list of items could include an annual report, a capability statement, a prospectus, your mission statement, a service pledge, your written history, or any other material you have that could help you explain who you are and what you do a bit better.

Networking Tip #10: Articles on trends affecting your industry

Which trends and events are important to your target audience? What do they need to know in order to make informed decisions about your field?

When you keep up with, and provide valuable information about, the issues and news items that are important to people, it shows them that you know what’s going on in your industry, and that you can help them to navigate that sometimes complicated terrain.

It also helps you to create conversations that build rapport with your audience, increase engagement, and lead to sales.

Don’t forget to think outside the box

I just shared the top ten most valuable things that you can use to boost your credibility, in your online marketing and in your offline networking efforts.  We have another blog on the site about five mistakes in your networking that you can stop making as well.

This is NOT meant to be an exhaustive list. There are many, many more things you can do to increase your credibility, and I encourage you to think outside the box and find the methods that work best for you. But these ten strategies will make a good starting point.

You don’t necessarily have to carry a briefcase of these items everywhere you go, but anytime you leave the house with the intention of networking and seeking clients and referral partners, I strongly encourage you to have at least a few of these items on hand.

Even if you don’t always have these materials physically present with you, at least most of them should always be available on your website.

Ready to make more money, and make a bigger difference in your community?

If you want to build a more profitable business, to get the most from your networking efforts, and to establish yourself as an authority in your field, I have two special invitations for you today:

The first is to visit our website, and listen to Ivan Misner’s podcast about the top 10 strategies for increasing your credibility.

And secondly, I would love to see you at our next BNI meeting!

There, you’ll meet amazing, like-minded entrepreneurs who would love to support your journey to success, and who have the skills to make that journey faster, easier and more fun.

To learn more about your local BNI chapter, and to see when and where its next meeting is, just click the link.  I hope to see you there.

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