14 Ways to Gain Credibility with Clients - FAST!

Published: May 03, 2011

Topics: Consulting       

By Kristine Schoonmaker, MyConsultingLife.Com

New consultants: What can you do to make your transition to consulting easy? On Wednesday, May 11, Kristine Schoonmaker will host a free tele-seminar, in which the former Accenture exec dishes on how new consultants can differentiate themselves from the pack. It's called "3 Questions You Need Answered to Guarantee Your Success the First Year in Consulting", and it's a must-see for anyone who's accepted an offer, worked briefly in the industry, or is just eyeing consulting as a potential career path of the future. It's at 12 pm on May 11th and yes, it's totally free.

Learn more and sign up here!

As a consultant, you may find yourself jumping from project to project and client to client in a given year. With each change come new team dynamics and, typically, a need for you to establish yourself as a credible partner. Whether you’ve been in the game for years or just found yourself on your first client engagement, here are 14 easy ways to build credibility with clients—FAST!

1.Have a great introduction. Credibility starts with the very first contact. Prepare well for your initial meeting. Make solid eye contact, firmly shake hands, and, as appropriate, highlight the relevant experience you bring to set a strong foundation for your client relationship.

2.Exude confidence. Confidence is attractive and one of the easiest ways to gain credibility. When you act and speak confidently, clients are more likely to trust you know what you are doing.

3.Dress the part. If you expect to be taken seriously, communicate that in the way you dress. Your appearance is the first thing people will notice. If you don't take care with how you present yourself, they may assume your attention to detail in your work is not up to par either.

4.Be truthful. Truthfulness also builds trust. Never try to bluff a client. They'll call you on it. If you don't know the answer to something, say so. Focus on communicating the steps you will take to find the answer rather than giving them one you made up on the fly.

5.Be relatable. People are more likely to trust those with whom that they know they have something in common. Don't be a machine; focus on the soft side of your client relationships as well.

6.Be consistent. Consistency is important in everything from your work hours to the quality of your deliverables. When clients know what to expect from you, they will become more and more comfortable working with you and trust you to deliver.

7.Be genuine. Clients appreciate authenticity in their team members. It helps them feel you are a true partner, not working your own agenda.

8.Be punctual. Showing up on time shows others that you respect their time, which will earn you respect in return.

9.Be engaged. Meetings and discussions are NOT the place for multi-tasking. Leave the phone and laptop outside unless there is a clear need and the client understands what you are doing. Take notes, ask questions, and be an active part of the discussion.

10.Be reliable. Honoring your commitments is extremely important to your credibility. Clients want to know they can count on you.

11.Demonstrate knowledge. Take the time to explain things thoroughly to clients and share examples where you've done something similar on other engagements. Showing clients that you have what it takes it one of the BEST ways to reach a high level of credibility.

12.Demonstrate understanding. Summarize discussions, confirm agreements and clarify vague information. Not only will clients know they’ve been heard, it’s a great way to ensure your deliverables and priorities are on target with their expectations.

13.Avoid small, easy to fix mistakes. It may sound silly, but misspellings, typos, or attaching the wrong file will erode credibility quickly. We've all done it from time to time, but these are the things that can really make your client question your attention to detail and the quality of your work. Slow down and double check your work to avoid these simple mistakes.

14.Always give it your best. People talk. If you are committed to doing a great job on every projectbig or smallyou'll start to make a name for yourself. Starting a project in high regard brings implied credibility, before you speak your first word.

Of course, we all know that once you've built credibility, it has to be maintained. What are 2 things you can build into your daily routine to remain highly credible with your clients?

Kristine Schoonmaker is The Career & Lifestyle Coach for Consultants and founder of MyConsultingLife.com. Her bi-weekly ezine Accelerate offers practical insider advice and quick tips from a former consulting exec to help YOU take greater control of your career and stay engaged in your personal life from the road. If you’re ready to have it all – an amazing career in consulting without giving up the lifestyle, relationships and experiences you want, get your FREE subscription now at www.myconsultinglife.com.