Why do professionals need to credentialise themselves?
Clients have a choice – they get to decide who they engage on particular projects, matters, cases or deals and who they spend their money with. According to research conducted by BTI Consulting in 2009 into the top ways clients select lawyers, personal recommendations are key followed by online searches (I assume this would be similar for selecting other professional advisers).
I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive but think it likely that, if someone recommends a professional to a prospective client, the prospective client is then likely to do a web search on that person prior to contacting him/her (although there will undoubtedly be lots of instances of people finding professional advisers online).
If a professional has sought to credentialise himself/herself then evidence of this will appear online – both on the person’s website, via their social media profiles, blog or third party sites (such as journals/newspapers/conference organisers). This all helps prospective clients to choose to do business with someone – it makes them feel good about their decision.
How can advisers credentialise themselves?
- Produce case studies outlining the client’s problem, what you did, and the results you achieved
- Obtain client testimonials talking about the benefits you delivered
- Speak at, and attend, relevant conferences/seminars and follow up!
- Run seminars at a client’s premises
- Run webinars and record them for attendees and those who couldn’t make it to view later
- Sell in article ideas to relevant publications
- Get to know relevant journalists and position yourself as a commentator
- Set up a blog and post regularly – if you hate writing consider a video or audio blog
- Produce guides, tips, or how-to’s and share these with your target audience(s)
- Host roundtables on topical issues
- Bring together clients with mutual interests and facilitate discussion
- Produce thought-leadership pieces
- Produce video-alerts or news-alerts on topical issues and the key things your clients need to consider
- Author an eBook or other book
- Initiate and comment on discussions on social media networks and on blogs
- Re-tweet or share good articles/blogs written by others that will be of interest to your target audience
- Ask and answer questions on social media networks
- Seek to demonstrate your expertise and capabilities through your bio – both hard copy and online
While this seems like a long list of ‘things to do’, we recommend selecting one or two subjects or topics and leveraging your interest and knowledge to credentialise yourself using the various channels (e.g. conferences, seminars, blogs etc). This will help you to build profile in a specific market or grow your standing as someone with particular expertise.