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Building Credibility – The Value Shift

Blogging Credibility

It’s Blogworld coming up in a few days. Another big conference with busy halls, packed sessions, and loud parties.

That might sound like heaven or hell to you, and believe me I understand both perspectives.

I am doing up to six sessions this year. Around six more than my nerves are built to take. You can see my schedule here. That nifty calendar shows where I will be as far as talks and panels are concerned, either on stage or heckling from the audience πŸ™‚

When people hear that I have my name down for these kinds of things, they tend toward incredulity. “You??“. Yes. Me.

You might already know I am shy and introverted, and I don’t actually see that as a bad thing. For a while I was lead to believe it was a “fault” that needed “fixing”. After thought (and trying to “cure” myself with no success), I came to realize it is just a difference of personality and style. It’s part of who I am, and clearly it doesn’t hold me back that much.

As well as developing my Shy Networking approaches that help me mix and connect effectively without losing my sanity, I decided to embrace my quirks, constraints and all.

The fact is, if you need to be known, and establish credibility, there is a lot that can be done from your desk. I wrote a whole course about growing your audience, boosting your authority, and offering products and services around that. But even though you can have a big list and thousands of people know, like and trust you, even then there are limits. Even with the best online system, things are accelerated when they can hear and see you in person.

Essentially, uncomfortable as it is, if I want to do the things I want to do, I have to be seen on stage and I need to network at these events.

In my view there has been a big shift in how credibility is perceived over the last ten or so years. The era of the internet has changed society to the extent the old rules do not apply with as much persuasive force as before.

Old school credibility could be gained from things like …

  • Heredity
  • Professional organisations
  • Qualifications and Certifications
  • Society membership
  • Committees
  • Management positions
  • Traditional PR mentions

Don’t get me wrong, all of these things do help, especially appearing in traditional press.

But we are becoming increasingly cynical about these kinds of things. We no longer trust the media, the old boys club, or even professional accreditation to provide enough credibility to work with.

There are three main ways we can generate more credibility with an audience once we have a spotlight:

  1. Expertise proof.
  2. Results proof.
  3. Social proof.

Look back over the old-school credibility builders. Notice anything?

None of those old ways of achieving credibility offer evidence of real value. There is no “What’s in it for me?”.

Even qualifications and certifications are no longer evidence that a person has relevant and demonstrable expertise because the pool has been tainted by unscrupulous certificate factories and fraudsters. You can be a doctor or a Lord now just by paying enough.

More and more we are turning to people who have something useful to share, who our friends trust, and who can prove they get results. If you want credibility that is what you need to start doing. Share your best tips, your case studies, and interact with people in a live setting.

Of course do not wait for an annual conference, be visible online and locally too. But when you have a platform where you can really deliver, swallow the fear and do it.

Bottom line: Shy as I am, this is how appearing at Blogworld helps me towards my goals and I recommend you consider something like it for your own.

Do you see people in your niche turning away from traditional credibility indicators? How are you growing your credibility? Attending Blogworld? Please share in the comments …

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  1. Discomfort is kinda awesome. And annoying.

    Ok. So I am in the weird yet brilliant stage where I’m recovering from anxiety. In person networking – like even hugging you at the Problogger training day – used to make me physically sick. I could barely stand up at the end of the day, I was that crook. I perservered because the benefits (like spider-man references) were worth it. That type of discomfort does need treatment.

    Shyness is different. I’ve always been introverted. I’m freaking out about blogworld. I’ve actually done a number of things in advance:
    – organized my safe people. These are people I’ve asked permission to hang around with if I’ feeling overwhelmed
    – planned what I’ll be doing. The plans are loose but structure makes me feel less overwhelmed by the people. Like “Oh, I’m going to meet x to talk about x at some point.”

    In person networking is how I’ve gotten where I am. Make the connection on twitter. Cement it in real life. It sucks, but that’s how it works.

    • My issue is people lump all shyness and social anxiety into one box – yes I do have occasions where I have panic attacks and feel I am going to barf, but I am also happily in a situation where I can (broadly) control my situation without medication. Especially as this year I will be in the Mandalay hotel and the conference is right at Mandalay – gets too much I escape to recharge the warp nacelles πŸ™‚

      • I agree πŸ˜› And, it’s a pain in the arse having social anxiety, generalized anxiety and just be plain old shy. The social anxiety didn’t need meds but it just drains me. When drained the other anxiety plays up.

        It’s a valid thing though. “Oh you don’t like people? You should get help.” πŸ˜› I only needed help ‘coz I couldn’t leave the house. I could talk to anyone who came into that house just fine.

        Looking forward to next week!

  2. I would also like to add to all the great points you’ve made something my mom says often: “You never know!”

    At events like these, you never know – you could meet someone who gives you totally new product ideas, marketing solutions, branding techniques, etc. They might have genius ideas that you never could have even dreamed of conceiving, and they might want you to be involved with their projects.

    You never know – you could meet someone who introduces new ways of thinking about things, allowing you to see a whole other world of possibilities in your niche.

    You never know – you could meet someone who changes your life.

    To me, it’s worth going to events like BlogWorld or other things that put me outside of my comfort zone not just because I could see some kind of immediate benefit, but because you never know where this crazy life takes ya. It’s not just about career benefits, either. You could connect with someone who becomes your best friend or even spouse some day. You never know! Meeting people online is great, but face-to-face you can make more “real” connections. The more good people I connect with, the better.

    • You never know, very true – and in my case has happened more times than not. Even when I thought I had completely dropped the ball. You really never know.

  3. Funny isn’t it how the “introverts” or “shy people” tend to turn to blogging to share their thoughts, ideas, inspiration and experiences. Well, I’m one of the shy ones too and I used to wonder if people would doubt what I blog about – especially it being about fashion and styling and that I’m NOT a stylist. But I put that thought aside and decided, hey, let’s just share what I know, with pictures, and if I show them how confident I am of the knowledge I’ve learned through experience, then maybe they will listen. And guess what, they do! πŸ™‚ I guess it’s really about being confident in what you believe in.

    • Yup, have confidence in your value. That is what I tell myself in talks and in webinars as well as my writing.

      My presentation might be shaky but I try to make up for it in content πŸ™‚

  4. In self development it has always been a bit this way (expertise, results and following/popularity).

    Which I am glad about. I think ‘qualifications’ of whatever kind are usually misleading. I’d like to think that we are adult enough to meet each other without needing filters.

    There are now attempts to bring in various forms or accreditation – but I think we are creative enough to defeat them.

    • Some fields need accreditation, such as medical doctors and lawyers, etc. I know though when I worked at a college how out of date the teachers were when it came to computer stuff, and how out of step the curriculum was with the real world. Any certificate that is out of date shouldn’t really take much out of the decision process, but hiring still tends towards “which acronyms are present in the resume” πŸ™‚

      I am not against education, and I am not against qualifications, but to me when it comes to being credible, results matter more.

  5. This is a relief.. I’ve always been focused on creating benefit-driven content – the type of stuff that helps people get a desired result.

    As oppose to, “I’m so great, look what I did..” it’s important to always include the “how this will help you” to the conversation – just like you did here.

    Very helpful, thanks!

  6. Poignant post and spot on.

    I like that fact that you have to put up some value first nowadays instead of just showing off some credentials.

    It is happening across all industries too. Even for younger kids where a decade or so ago you could be defined simply by how you look – “dress the part” – now that so many people look and dress the same, there is becoming more of an emphasis on what you can actually do.

    You may look the part, but do you have the skills to pay the bills…

  7. That makes 2 of us that are shy and introverted πŸ™‚

    Although, watching you take the stage, you can’t tell, so that tells me there is hope. Looking forward to meeting again Chris, and hopefully I can catch a few of your sessions.

  8. Blogworld was awesome. I stumbled into it last year when I happened to be in vegas the same weekend it was happening. Met Joel Comm and gave him a gift and he asked me if it was cocaine hahahha. I told him “nah” and he said “too bad, I need some to do what I do”


  9. Credibility online is particularly one thing that is needed if you are marketing and is the thing that most people stuggle with.

    I am finding my own way down that route through blogging and sharing decent content – I guess if you satisfy peoples ‘WIIFM’ then you are perhaps on the road to being credible.

    Good post BTW


  10. When I read your question re: heaven or hell?, I thought ‘how odd to go from the quiet noise of social media online to the non-virtual virtual screaming noise of a big convention.’

    Hang tough Chris–the more action steps you take in advance, the more options you’ll have when the nervousness/shyness comes. And it will, and that’s okay πŸ˜‰

  11. It’s brilliant that you give fear the finger and get on with what needs to be done and refreshing for us listeners to hear you speak with quiet confidence.

    How are you growing your credibility? Attending Blogworld could help show I’m serious about this business… see you in Vegas:) I plan to nick off to y room for a quiet cuppa at some point too!

  12. Interesting.

    I’m working on the expertise and social proof, but am really struggling with the RESULTs proof.

    The RESULTs proof is, of course, the only one that matters in a business. So, dang.

    • Do not underestimate yourself. Everything you do, achieve, work out, there is someone behind you who wants to do those things.

      When I got my first 1,000 subscribers I had tons of people asking how I did it. In my head I was “If I could do it then it can’t be that hard” but people were showing me otherwise.

      I am sure you have lots of results people would kill for, even if it is just the first step in a chain.

      • Sigh, thanks for the words of encouragement. I’d be thankful for 100 followers to my blog. A thousand sounds like asking for the moon and the stars and the Milky Way, and Stephen Hawking’s advice on surviving a trip to the Black Hole.

  13. Chris – Great stuff. The best thing now about becoming a trusted resource (aka approachable non-jackass expert) is that YOU have control as opposed to a gatekeeper, producer, journalist. People can create their own content in a variety of ways and speaking is one of the many ways to do it.

    I think the main two things people crave is authenticity (as opposed to a polished spokesperson) and to be educated, entertained, inspired (or all three).

  14. I love reading comments sometimes. Two things you said, “rather than β€œI am awesome” it should be more about β€œwhat do you need?” and “Do not underestimate yourself. Everything you do, achieve, work out, there is someone behind you who wants to do those things.” RIGHT ON! If someone, anyone (experienced or not) can give me information that is useful in a way that makes me trust them, I’ll think they’re awesome enough to follow and buy their products. But, you lose either one of those things(trust, usefulness) and I’m gone.

    In regards to being shy, I actually find shy people more trustworthy. I’m new and still rather nervous with putting my ideas out in the blogosphere, and get so nervous public speaking as well. The way I deal is to tell myself there is someone who NEEDS this info, and if I don’t do this, I’m letting them down.

    Think of that newbie in the back row who is hanging on your every word in hopes it will make a difference in their life. Remember how you might just help them follow their dreams, and you’ll get through it. =) You’ll do wonderful! I’m hoping to get videos of all this since I can’t go this year.

  15. I agree with the comments by both Jade and Chris. As an individual who works on his computer 24×7. Socializing in confrences can be weird and strange. I am not sure if you can all it shyness but its different and not easy.

  16. Hi Chris,

    I really admire that you have identified where and when it is important for you to get out and be seen in person. Great advice as I know many introverts who would much rather hide behind their computers :). We all have stuff that is scary and the best we can do is to accept that it is scary (whatever the ‘it’ is) and try to make it as unscary as possible.

    Your commenters have already suggested some great strategies – have your intro lines ready for those networking occasions, buddy up with someone, talk to the person next to you at the table rather than trying to engage with the whole table….

    Good luck at the conf – I’m sure you will shine!


  17. Hi Chris,

    Rings very true for me. I’m a chiropractor. The only certification I have is an Active Release Technique certification. I also go to seminars by a guy who teaches to about 10 people at a time; his niche being that he only wants to teach the top 5% of the profession. With that, I notice that patients will refer the hell out of me as long as I get them quick results. Being a chronic pain specialist, I can often do this.

    Thanks for validating how I practice.


  18. Wish I could be at BlogWorld to hear you speak, Chris! I heard you speak at the ProBlogger training day in Melbourne and thought you did a great job!

    But I know exactly what you mean… I’m also not one to really put myself ‘out there’, and I do believe there is a place in the world for those who are quietly confident. However, I also realise a lot can come from forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone every now and then.

    Good luck with your six sessions! Maybe one day you’ll be giving me tips for speaking at BlogWorld :p