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  Back to «  Home   «   Starting a Consulting Business  
How to Establish Credibility as an Expert for Your Consulting Business

Many who would love to start an independent consulting practice worry that they don't have enough credibility in the marketplace. More specifically, they are concerned that they will not be able to acquire clients because they don't have a proven track record as a consultant, a stream of publications, a book, a national reputation, a diploma from an Ivy League college, or a Ph.D. Fear not! This article describes 6 ways you can quickly establish your credibility.

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More on Starting a Consulting Business:
Starting a Consulting Business Home
First Steps in Starting a New Consulting Business
Myths About Starting a Consulting Business
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Consulting Business
How to Sell Your Consulting Services
How to Overcome the Challenges of Running a Solo Consultant Business
NEW section - Starting a Consulting BusinessHow to Establish Credibility as an Expert
Starting a Consulting Business Expert:
Bruce Katcher, Starting a Consulting Business Expert

Here's how to establish that crebility.

1. Obtain Referrals

Referrals from satisfied clients will always be the most powerful method for establishing credibility. You’re Golden if a satisfied client refers you to a qualified prospect.

Don’t be passive about referrals. You can dramatically increase the number of referrals you receive by simply asking for them. Ask satisfied clients, previous employers, or respected colleagues for the names of people who might gain value from your services. Also, ask them if you can use their name when you contact the prospect. Better yet, ask if they will call ahead and let the prospect know you will be calling.

In addition, be sure to let your clients know how important referrals are to you. I often include a “request for referrals” as part of my proposals.

2. Prepare a List of Testimonials

Testimonials are another excellent method for establishing your credibility. Here is an example of one of mine.

“Although it is a small firm, Discovery Surveys, Inc. shows remarkable flexibility, innovation, and ability to meet tight deadlines. The help in communicating the most important results to management and employees has been exceptional. I'll continue to use Discovery Surveys for any employee survey work - focus groups to paper and pencil or Internet."

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Make certain that when someone writes you a testimonial, you have their permission to use it to promote your services. Then, use these testimonials as frequently as possible. Include a one-page listing of them in your press kit. Post them on your web site, and print them in your brochure and possibly even on your business cards. Display them in your proposals. They are powerful marketing tools.

3. Actively Pursue Endorsements

Ask a satisfied client, previous boss, or former customer to write a letter that touts the great work you have done for them. Have them send it to their professional network. Just like referrals and testimonials, endorsements transfer the credibility of your client directly to you.

4. Publish Articles

You can also quickly establish your credibility by publishing in trade publications. It is surprisingly easy to do this. Editors are always looking for articles. Speak with the editor first to find out if they are interested in receiving an article from you. Have a few topics in mind when you call. Make certain that your contact information is included in the article and that you have the right to reproduce it. Reprint it on glossy paper or turn it into a nice pdf file and send it to prospects.

5. Speak

Presenting at professional association meetings is another excellent way to establish your credibility. Just find out who is on the program committee of a relevant association and tell them how your message will benefit their members. Leverage the speech by sending out press releases in advance and inviting your network to attend.

6. Conduct a Survey

You can become the leading current expert on virtually any topic in your field by conducting a survey (e.g., a web, telephone, or interview study). Pick a topic relevant to your consulting expertise that will be of interest to your prospects and to participants in the study. Promise participants a copy of the report. Then send the report to your prospects. Guess who just became the credible expert in the field? You.

Bottom Line

So stop worrying about your lack of credibility in the marketplace. You can quickly establish it through some strategic planning and perspiration.

© Copyright Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D., 2013. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


About This Author

Starting a Consulting Business Expert Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. is an Industrial/Organizational psychologist, president of Discovery Surveys, Inc. and Executive Director of The Center for Independent Consulting. He is author of "An Insider's Guide to Building a Successful Consulting Practice" (AMACOM) and "30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers" (AMACOM). Reach out to Dr. Katcher for consulting assistance at, 781-784-4367, on LinkedIn at Bruce Katcher PhD, or on Twitter @BruceKatcher.

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