I have degrees, certifications, and qualifications, but in my business trust is most important. Certifications are only as valuable as the organizations that provide them. Your customer needs to know the qualifications of the provider, how the certification is relevant to the service being provided, and what kind of training you received to get the certification. A formal education is easier for a customer to understand if they respect the institution that offered the degree. Natural talent is harder to quantify, but it is at least as important as formal training. Testimonials provide some verification for experiential qualifications, but there is often no way to verify their validity.
What credentials do you find most useful in your business? Whether you own a business or work for someone else, you have methods for identifying your expertise. A job seeker might use a cover letter and resume, while an entrepreneur would use business cards, brochures, and a business plan to show off their credentials. Often face-to-face contact and word of mouth show your customer your integrity better than the papers your credentials are written on. Whenever possible I hand a card, brochure, or sample product to a person so they will remember who I am and what I can do for them. Social networking and blogging can also tell your customers a lot about who you are as a person and help them feel connected to you on an ongoing basis.
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