How to build your credibility online step by step

Kevon Cheung

When entrepreneurs start out building things on the Internet, a lot of them focus on the wrong thing: the idea. It is possible to be stuck on making a business and solving a problem when deciding on what yo build.

Right, the idea is important. But you know what is more important? My subject line sold me out: Credibility. With credibility, you don't necessarily need a revolutionary idea and people will still buy from you.

That is because our brains are wired to make make decisions based on credibility, not perceived value.

So, how can entrepreneurs effectively build up their online credibility?

1. You take baby steps

This is my way of breaking down how human perceives credibility.

If it is very hard to achieve one thing, and you achieve it, we tend to think you're qualified to get there 

 And that makes you more trusted.

Here are some examples.

1. It "must be" extremely hard to meet with the President. If Jessica has done that, she must be a qualified person to meet with the President.

2. It "must be" difficult to get on Tim Ferriss' podcast. If Dave is on the show, he must be a qualified person to get on the show.

I use quotations on "must be" because it is all about how hard we perceive the task to be. Everyone could have a different level of difficulty. For example, if your uncle happens to know Barack Obama, then it is not surprising that you could easily get a photo with the former President at a country club.

So every achievement is placed on a scale from easy to achieve to hard to achieve. Achieving closer to the easy side means you'd gain a tiny bit of credibility, and closer to the hard side means a ton of credibility.

If we put this concept onto the online world, the scale looks like this:

These are the most common achievements for tech entrepreneurs. Can you point out where your credibility level is right now?
These are the most common achievements for tech entrepreneurs. Can you point out where your credibility level is right now?

If you want to achieve something on the harder side of the scale, you need credibility from things that come from the easier side first 

If your dream is to become a book author and you haven't published any articles or done any interviews, your chance of success is slim because you don't have credibility.

But if you have an active Twitter account with 5,000 followers and have written dozens of articles on this topic, you've built up your credibility to be qualified to launch a book.

This is exactly how I approached becoming an entrepreneur online.

1.  I started writing tweets and articles which got people's attention.

2.  Then I created a free definitive guide on #BuildingInPublic which was read by 2,100 people in the first 3 days.

3.  With that, I created a free email course to help people make Twitter friends.

4.  Then I work on a new book called Showing Up Right to help solopreneurs and creators build their voice online.

2. You get endorsed by real people

The baby step approach gives you a roadmap to increase your own credibility. Start working on it starting today! But we live in a world that is run by people, so getting affirmation from real people helps to make big leaps in lifting your credibility.

When someone endorses your name or work, it is a strong signal of trust because they're associating their reputation with your reputation. For example, if Elon Musk says you're the man to watch in the micro-SaaS space. Then you get his credibility level, which is a huge jump.

I was lucky enough (my Twitter handle used to be @kevon69 with my birthday) to be endorsed by Preetam Nath who has 5,000+ followers at the moment and is an influencer on Twitter. This helped me a lot.

Once you get that going. When you can get different respected people to endorse you regularly, you're establishing yourself as "somebody" on the Internet.

To get an endorsement, it is almost always based on strong and mutual relationships. So we're going back to the basics - make friends first!

3. You accumulate evidence

Unless you're a celebrity, no one is going to promote you, except yourself. So do yourself a favor. Be your own promoter.

Whenever I see a tweet that mentions my name, I always immediately save it in my Testimonial account so I don't lose it (example here here).

If you're the type of person that sees this as bragging, then do this with me. You can think of that one person online you admire a lot. What is her online personality like? Does she post endorsement notes given by other people?

Chances are she is genuine and kind and you absolutely enjoy her presence. And chances are she occasionally posts endorsements on her social account.

And you still like her. Why?

As long as you're humble in your everyday life, one or two brags in a while aren't killing your reputation. They're happy you want to share with others. Just don't overdo it.

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