59 Ways to Grow Business Credibility and Experience : Under30CEO 59 Ways to Grow Business Credibility and Experience : Under30CEO
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59 Ways to Grow Business Credibility and Experience

| September 16, 2009 | 57 Comments

young-businessman-enjoying-a-success-thumb4695569One of the most challenging parts of being a young entrepreneur is branding yourself as someone with experience and expertise in your field.  This list is a compilation of ways to grow that credibility and experience so you can look like a rockstar.  Remember, each of these tips are building blocks to get to the highest level of expertise.  Work your way up the rungs, establishing greater authority with each new experience you take on.

The Basics

1. Grow your Twitter following.  Yes, social networking is about growing relationships, but if you want to look like somebody important, boost your numbers. Who can argue with 10,000+ followers?

2. Claim your domain name and put up a landing page.  YourName.com means you have a presence.  Presence=credibility.

3. Improve your SEO.  Search engine optimization is critical to being known.  Anybody important should be easily found on Google.

4. Get reviewed on LinkedIN.  Want people to vouch for you? Have them review your work on LinkedIN.  Only a small percentage of users have reviews; this will make you look super professional.

5. Have a serious bio.  If you bio seems weak at first, that’s okay–remember, each of these steps are building blocks.  Each achievement you have, put it on your “About Me” page as you build experience.

6. Have a blog.  Have something worthy of other people reading? Get blogging.  Blogging shows commitment to something and after a few months it’ll be a great showcase of your work and knowledge.

7. Get comments on your blog.  Important people get comments on their blog–if what you are saying is worthy of a comment then you must be somebody.

8. Have professional photos.  Use them as your avatars, put it front and center on your blog and use them when you get featured places or write as a guest.  Every professional has a professional photo.

9. Link up what people are saying about you or your company on search.twitter.com.  It should look like this: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=under30 This search will show that people are conversing with you and prove that you have a voice on a subject.

10. Bonus: Attend events and snag photos with celebrities and or industry leaders.  While not everyone will believe you are best friends, you are instantly credible by being at the same place as someone famous.


11. Guest blog.  Learn how to pitch from Ramit Sethi author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich here.

12. Be a guest contributor for Mashable.com or Under30CEO.com.   Almost all big online publications are looking for new content.

13. Write for About.com or any other publication that compiles How-To articles.  This proves you have expertise on a subject.

14. Make social media friends and contribute back and forth on each other’s blogs.  This will allow you to gain exposure to a new audience.

15. Have a writing sample. Make it your best work and showcase it.  Blow your reader away and you’ll be able to land any gig.

16. Write for Entrepreneur Magazine.  They are open to submissions, so after you establish a bit of experience and credibility, shoot for a published magazine.  Check out their guidelines here.

17. Write a local column.  Contact your local newspapers, they can hardly afford to pay their writers anymore, so they’d be happy to give your work some exposure.  Soon you may have a syndicated column!

18. Write an e-book. Write it in Word or Google Doc, save it as a PDF and blast it out to your followers.  Setup PayPal on your blog if you want to charge for the book.

19. Publish a real book.  Why not? The thoughts in your head won’t make you any money unless you do something about it.  Being a published writer creates huge street-cred.

20. Start a newsletter.  A little old school during the age of blogging, but don’t underestimate the power of an email newsletter.  Give your newsletter a great title and you’ll sound like you are the publisher of a very important chain of communication.

21. Bonus: Submit your work to freelance sites and start getting paid like http://www.associatedcontent.com


22. Start local. Have a good story? Talk about your experiences at local high schools, colleges, or chamber of commerce.  This is the start to every speakers resume.

23. Put on a seminar.  Know something others want to know?  Go to your local library and organize a seminar.  This is especially good marketing for self employed people such as doctors, lawyers and accountants.  Teach skills (for free) to people who might do business with you later.

24. Speak at a conference. Find out about an upcoming conference and ask to speak.  Don’t wait around for someone to ask you to speak, it’s not going to happen.

25. Sit on a panel.  Panels are great first time speaking experiences.  You aren’t the center of attention, but you can chime in on a subject as necessary.

26. Be a moderator.  You still seem important, you still get to claim participation in a major event, but you weren’t the expert–you just asked the questions.  Also a great way to meet the panelists and speakers.

27. Bonus: Once you establish enough credibility, build a portfolio, get paid to speak and register with a speaker’s bureau.


28. Start a podcast.  Have a lot to say? Record audio of it.  Host people to come on your podcast and share their expertise.

29. Get your own radio show. Jump on BlogTalkRadio and find an open slot in your niche. Anyone can create a show about what they are passionate about.

30. Be a guest on a radio show.  How? Google your niche, find the shows and ask to be a guest.  Email the host with a couple ideas on what you would like to discuss, how it would benefit their audience and why you are qualified.

31. Host a conference call.  Use FreeConferenceCall.com and have a few experts chat.  The software lets you download it after the call is done and save it as a .MP3.

32. Bonus: Have an opt-in mailing list that sends your subscriber a free download of one of your calls.  Building your mailing list is extremely important.


33. Start a video blog.  Want experience on camera? Fire up your webcam and start getting comfortable.  The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.  Video blogging shows confidence.

34. Go live on uStream. Start your own live show, talk about your industry and get people to come chat about it.  It’s free and a great way to meet people.

35. Host a webinar.  Claiming you are the teacher of an online seminar is a great thing to boast about.  Using the software and teaching the material solidifies your credibility.

36. Post your video resume.  When someone punches your name into YouTube they should be able to find something just as when they google it.  Take control of your online reputation and tell the world who you are.

37. Conduct Skype Interviews.  You need 3 pieces of software: Skype, CamTwist and QuickTime Pro if you are using a Mac.  Video chat with anyone in the world, toggle the camera back between yourself and the interviewee with CamTwist and record it in high quality using QuickTime Pro.  Put these on your blog.

38. Take a TV production course.  Having certificates is a great way to boost credibility.  Check your local colleges.

39. Start an Access TV show.  Your local Axis channel probably runs a lot of junk anyway.  Go to town hall and find out how you can get involved.  If you are a small business owner this is a great way to market.

40. Pitch local news.  Want to come on and talk about your expertise? Pick up the phone and talk to your local producer.  Once you say you’ve been on local news, you are much more likely to book bigger appearances.

41. Pitch the big shows. Oprah, Leno, Good Morning America–they are all looking for guests.  This is tough, but the worst thing you can do is not try.  Go to their websites and fill out the form.  Spend some time to make your story sound compelling.

42. Bonus: Create a highlight reel splicing together all your best work on video.


43. Get involved in local organizations. There are thousands, check for business networking groups, chamber of commerces, economic development centers, business bureaus, urban revitalization groups.  Having your name associated or sitting on the board gives you a great line in your bio.

44. Volunteer at a conference.  Want free admission to a conference? Help run it.  Contact the people organizing it, volunteer to be security, set up chairs, whatever gets you in the door.  This can save thousands of dollars in admission.

45. Teach kids about money. No person is complete without a well rounded background.  Become involved with something larger than yourself.

46. Teach business skills in urban areas.  Dressing for success, interviewing, and business planning are very rarely taught in the public school system.  Do something for someone who isn’t as fortunate as you.

47. Bonus: Organize the volunteer effort yourself and credit yourself as the leader.


48. Get your previous employer to write a letter of recommendation. Have them address it “To Whom it May Concern”.

49. Have a client write a sentence or two testimonial and post it on your about me page.

50. Create a “What People are Saying” about xxx on your website.  Ask your professors, co-workers, employees and speaking audience to write short blurbs about you if they respect your work.

51. Use your Twitter favorites as your testimonials.  Someone say something nice about you on Twitter? Favorite it. You can link to this in your “What People are Saying” page.

52. Get video testimonials.  With today’s technology it is just as easy for people to flip on their webcam and send you a good review than it is for them to write one.  This proves that a real person actually said these things.

53. Bonus: Make nice with people who are credible and have them write testimonials.  People with big titles work well: CEO, PhD, Dean of Business School, Chairman, Author, etc.

Competitions & Awards

54. Serve as a judge.  Find out about a competition and ask to judge.  Nothing solidifies credibility like judging others.

55. Follow your local business publications, they are always giving out local awards for something.  Put some effort in when submitting yourself or your company.  This is something you can use for years.

56. Check your local Earnst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.  Visit their site here.

57. Call your chamber of commerce and ask what type of awards are given out.  All organizations give awards, find out what the awards are and if you think you can win, join!

58. Make friends with bloggers who give awards.  Now anyone with a blog can write the “Top 30 Twitters Under 30“.

59. Bonus: Use your social media friends to win your awards.  Anything that needs a vote or a nomination is great for people with a social media following.  Ask your friends to put in a vote!

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO urging people to drop the 9-5 and get passionate about something. Follow him on Twitter @MattWilsontv as the Gen-Y spokesperson looking to help every young entrepreneur on the planet.

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Category: Personal Branding, Startup Advice

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  • http://twitter.com/JeremiahLee Jeremiah

    Great stuff here.

    Quick question:
    “39. Start an Axis TV show. Your local Axis channel…”

    What is this? Do you mean cable access channel?

  • http://kevinasuncion.com/ Kevin Asuncion

    Hey Matt,

    This is a great list. Legitimacy and credibility is definitely a barrier for young entrepreneurs trying to make it. This list should be a great roadmap for those who feel the task of bulding credibility is a daunting task. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • http://blog.brand-yourself.com Patrick@brand-yourself.com

    Solid tips. Especially for young people, be willing to put in a lot of “free” work to get the ball rolling. For example, for speakign engagements, volunteer to speak at as many events as possible. Work your ass off to make sure the presentations are top quality. Even if its only a small break out session, treat it like a keynote. Make sure you get an endorsement afterwards. After a handful of these, you can start putting a price tag on them. After all, you've spoken at event X Y and Z in the past, and look at all the positive feedback you've gotten!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Yes, Access channel–Axis is a cable company–my mistake! Thanks!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    You are welcome Kevin. Glad it helped. If you want to work your way up through the ranks and look like a rockstar you need to go out and track down the experiences that will help you appear as you are one.

    Step 2 is spinning these appearances so you sound awesome!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    All your testimonials add up to the worth of your work. First it'll be free, but then imagine getting paid to do this kind of stuff. It's like building a resume, but a whole lot better when you enter the online realm. You guys are onto something there at Brand Yourself.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    This is quite the list. Many of which I NEED to do, so thanks for the push. I'm going to bookmark this and save it for my not so intelligent Gen Y friends ;)

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    We are all fighting to get to that next level, but we don't focus on the steps we need to take. Personally, I want to look the best I possibly can on paper, so when someone wants to get press about us, or hire me for a seminar, they say, damn, this guy has it going on. My next steps are pitching Entrepreneur Magazine, writing for Mashable, Keynote of 2,000+ and getting on more local TV stations. But I am only confident that I'm fit for the job because I've taken the steps before this… established my blog, gotten on radio, done lots of guest writing etc…

    Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

  • http://twitter.com/denabotbyl Dena Botbyl

    Love it. Like I always say… If you can't knock 'em out with knowing — baffle 'em with bull$hit. Although your approach is a bit more advanced. ; )

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com JohnExley

    One of your top blogs Matt, I like this list a lot. I especially like the volunteering section, as I think that volunteering can be very rewarding and helping others is a source of happiness for just about all of us I would imagine!

    I have just one qualm with you Conan. In tip # 1: you say that to look important, you need to grow your Twitter following, and that 'who can argue with 10k + followers?'. I personally disagree on the grounds that I have come across several Twitter pages who boast followers in the 10k+ range and who not only don't Look important but certainly are not credible.

    Don't you believe that it's about the level of 'closeness' of your relationships with your followers, and not the sheer number of followers, that counts?

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Building your credibility means putting appropriate spin on what you have done. You need to make yourself look as influential as possible. If you don't take advantage of what you've done and leverage it appropriately you aren't living up to your full potential. Sure pump yourself up, but don't BS too much!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I've been waiting for someone to argue this with me Exley. I agree it is about the closeness of relationships blah blah blah, BUT, nobody can tell that by glancing at your Twitter page. People fall for it almost every time when they glance at your followers and think “damn this person must have influence”. Yes, there is a guy with a million Twitter followers who nobody has heard of and nobody can figure out why he has attracted them–but, most people are going to believe this guy is someone important.

    Twitter followers is just a microfraction of the whole equation–if you boast 10k followers with accolades XYZ, now you are talking. 10k alone doesn't mean a thing.

  • kimjimmerson

    These are all very good tips – far more than I would have thought of on my own. Personally, I'm working on the first one at the moment and growing my Twitter following. One thing that people should keep in mind though is that credibility, like success, takes time. I saw an interview with a gentleman that had started a business referral network and his company was now an international success. Ellie Drake was conducting the interview and she congratulated him on his success. He graciously thanked her and then said something profound. “I'm a 20 year overnight success.”

  • http://twitter.com/denabotbyl Dena Botbyl

    I could not agree more. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Yea I think Matt hits it. It's about the relationships you have but to new people or people you are pitching to they have no clue…all they see is the number and a bigger number stands out to them. Its a fine balance and important to keep your relationships on twitter, form groups and what not. But developing a solid number says something to people that have no clue who you are.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    20 year overnight success–wow. As young entrepreneurs our generation is big on getting things done fast. The media highlights overnight success stories–or at least makes them out to be. I've had 5 solid years in the world of entrepreneurship and have built my personal brand step by step–what I wish I knew was how to accelerate my success and what steps to take to create more credibility for myself.

    Hopefully people take these tips into consideration!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Put it this way–if you have super deep relationships, that's great–but you still have to leverage them to make yourself seem credible. If you are saying good stuff on Twitter then people should follow you. It's like being a super impactful speaker who only speaks in a room full of 5. They provide a lot of value, but you want lots of people who you impact to seem as credible as possible.

  • http://www.rumfordaquatics.com rumfordaquatics

    Great Great Article. This has to be one of the best I've read on here by you.

    Being the young spectrum of the gen y at 17 I'm still not sold on twitter (and I'm not the only one my age who isn't as the statistics show) Yet everything you've said is solid.

    It seems that its a fine line between being humble and being able to sell yourself well.


  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com JohnExley

    Thanks for helping me 'see the line' here Matt, I was a concerned that the line between faking credibility (especially to new Twitter-users) based upon one's Twitter following was blending with legitimate credibility based upon a loyal Twitter following of tight-knit relationships.

    The more followers on Twitter that you are able to engage with or whom pay attention to your content and the more people you interact with in general creates greater and greater influence and ultimately, Credibility. Watching both you and Jared closely the past year or so, it has been cool to see your influence expand dramatically and your credibility rise consistently.

    Keep up these solid articles Conan! Looking forward to your Social Media training module for the Under30 Rockstar Business Series on Monday. Crush it my man

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Great to hear you liked it. Twitter is a must! But it also comes into play more when you have something to show people like a blog or business.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    It doesn't matter your age, if you want to meet people and get known, you need to put yourself out there. Twitter is the best communication platform for this purpose. Gary V and Guy Kawasaki have both said there's no better way to build a name for yourself.

  • scottlansing

    Great post. Good for professional advancement. Also great if you've moved to a new city and just trying to get established in general. Hope I didn't overlook this — I noticed you mentioned blogging and getting people to comment on your blog; font forget commenting on others' blogs. If you take the time to do this the chances of them reciprocating are more likely to happen. Thanks for this.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Scott, yes, if you want to build your credibility with other authors, get to know them and other readers out there blog comments and forum comments are huge. You need to know what you are talking about and those two places are great places to show off what you know.

  • http://www.rumfordaquatics.com rumfordaquatics

    You guys are right, especially since without twitter I wouldn't have found U30CEO!

    Well because of this article and a few others and a forum post I think I'm going to start branding myself and not just “rumford aquatics” or whatever else I'm working on.

    Another tip I can't remember if I read above or in the forum you guys have is the “Personal Business Card” With just your information then you can add the other important stuff on a person to person basis.

    I'm just terrible at blogging, I'll get going one week then leave it a month, get going again leave it again… I need to figure out how to keep at it. Maybe another idea for an article?

  • http://clintonskakun.com/ Clinton Skakun

    Hi Matt,

    These are great. Many of us have already done these. I should print this out and check it off one by one!:)


  • kimjimmerson

    Matt, I think that you're doing a fine job. I read an article in a newsletter recently specifically regarding the “instant” successes in internet marketing. The kind where people sent out e-mails to learn “How I made $5,065 in 3 days!” What that author stated was that these e-mails neglected to mention the previous campaigns or product launches where that didn't happen. Success and credibility is still going to take time and hard work. It's the hard work that makes you appreciate that success once you get it.

    I customized my Yahoo page a bit the other night. Guess what popped up as a suggestion for me? Under 30 CEO. Hmmmm…you just might have a bit more success and credibility than you realize!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Kim, that's awesome! Was it Yahoo! that suggested Under30CEO to you? Bring on the credibility!

  • kimjimmerson

    It was Yahoo!. Feel better about your efforts? LOL

  • http://www.ProfessionalEncourager.com David – aka @threedot

    What a great article Matt – you guys amaze me with the content you produce.

    Credibility is one of the greatest pieces of capital an entrepreneur has. Your reputation and the level of trust you create is critical to developing your personal brand, growing your company, and building a “tribe”. Build your credibility and while you are doing that, also be doing everything you can to educate yourself so you can back up the expertise you have “advertised”.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Its one of the biggest battles with blogging. But I think its the difference between treating it like a business and a hobby. If you start a business no one is telling you to work but you make yourself do it because you know you have to grow and make sales. Blogging should be looked at the same way..do it for the subscribers and have the plans for sales…maybe consulting, speaking, informational products.

    If you put a monetary goal behind it keeping it going becomes easier.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Clinton, awesome to hear it. What has been your biggest credibility builder?

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Threedot, thanks a lot my friend. I never thought of credibility being capital but it certainly is. Nobody can ever take away the experiences you have. Have you read Tribes by Seth Godin?

  • http://www.ProfessionalEncourager.com David – aka @threedot

    I don't have a hard copy yet – but I have a pdf of it and I have seen the movie (his presentation) too – go check out http://tinyurl.com/lq9aoh if you haven't seen it already. That isn't the more general Ted talk – this is almost an hour long presentation.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I got to go to the Tribes launch and hang out with Seth for a while it was really cool. He made an awesome presentation and spent a lot of time answering questions. Awesome time.

  • http://espn.go.com Cody Swann

    Graffitiing my name on overpasses on the 405 out here in LA seems to work, too. Kidding. Good stuff, Matt. Thanks

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Whatever it takes to get you name out their Cody! Thanks for the comment.

  • http://blog.brand-yourself.com Trace Cohen

    Got to hand it to you, this is one hell of a list! One thing I want to make clear to anyone who reads this is that this ISN'T a checklist, but a list of things that you can do multiple times depending on the desired outcome. Obviously some lead to other opportunities but as you said each one is a building block, another rung to take you one step closer to your goal. I might just print this out as it is full of great ideas. Great job!

  • http://profitablestorytelling.com/ Terri Rains

    This is the first blog post I've actually bookmarked in a long time. Thanks for the comprehensive rundown. I do a lot of things (more accurately, I help others do them), but some of these ideas are new to me. Thanks!

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  • http://twitter.com/LenKendall Len Kendall

    Thanks for the shout out. Glad to have you on the list. This is a great post and full of resources. Thanks for putting it together!

  • http://twitter.com/LenKendall Len Kendall

    Thanks for the shout out. Glad to have you on the list. This is a great post and full of resources. Thanks for putting it together!

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  • http://twitter.com/getajobbyjob NextStep CareerCoach

    This is a really, really helpful list! http://bit.ly/J0fJv

  • http://twitter.com/getajobbyjob NextStep CareerCoach

    SUPER helpful article – i LOVE it: http://under30ceo.com/2009/09/16/59-ways-to-gro

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  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Okay, I LOVE this article…. however…. Some of these are just uncool. First of all, you can get tons of Twitter followers by spamming and following everyone or signing up for some sketchy service. But unless all of those followers know who you are and care about what you have to say the number is kind of worthless. Better to grow that shit organically.

    Secondly,websites like Associated Content (& Suite 101, etc) are total scams, do nothing to boost your credibility, are a huge waste of time, and no one takes writers on those sites seriously. Sorry, but it's really important freelance writers (if that something you wanted to do) understand that. Having clips from article databases like that don't really count.

    One of my favorite resources is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). I've been featured in Real Simple Magazine, TIME, Lemondrop, etc all because of pitches I've made to journalists looking for sources. Highly HIGHLY recommend signing up :)

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Okay, I LOVE this article…. however…. Some of these are just uncool. First of all, you can get tons of Twitter followers by spamming and following everyone or signing up for some sketchy service. But unless all of those followers know who you are and care about what you have to say the number is kind of worthless. Better to grow that shit organically.

    Secondly,websites like Associated Content (& Suite 101, etc) are total scams, do nothing to boost your credibility, are a huge waste of time, and no one takes writers on those sites seriously. Sorry, but it's really important freelance writers (if that something you wanted to do) understand that. Having clips from article databases like that don't really count.

    One of my favorite resources is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). I've been featured in Real Simple Magazine, TIME, Lemondrop, etc all because of pitches I've made to journalists looking for sources. Highly HIGHLY recommend signing up :)

  • Deji

    A real nice and helpful article

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  • Latanya Marshalle

    I just stumbled across this post and still find it relevant and useful.  Now, If I could only grow my twitter, fan page, following faster…mmmm.

  • http://www.kronikmedia.co.uk/ K.Singh, London

    I think building your own blog is the most efffective way to build your credibility and establish your expertise in your niche. if you think of it, blogging also fuels a lot of the other points you have mentioned e.g. it will increase your social media following, create guest posting opportunities, and more.

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