Laeeth Isharc’s answer to How do I make people trust me that I know what I talk about without certificates to prove it?

The world has changed a great deal since 1870 or so, and scale and access to information has a lot to do with that.

If you think back to your childhood when you spent time in a small group for an extended period you knew who was good at what, and exams, prizes, and so on didn’t necessarily change your assessment.

So people with a skill to a certain extent are by nature able to discern skill in others. And in a small group they may not have that discernment themselves but they probably know who to ask.

So there has been thus movement towards credentialism for several reasons — some good, some not. In my grandparents time, 2 percent of the population went to university, so you knew that if someone had been to Cambridge and done okay, they were probably not completely stupid, although there were many smart people who didn’t even finish the later years of school. That was the case in Britain in the 90s when we had a prime minister who the international herald tribune described as a high school dropout…

But the value of a signal drops when everyone tries to acquire a credential because of the signalling value rather than an intrinsic interest in the subject. We are well past that point today, so you have a decent chance.

So the solution is quite simple — you need people to recognise you as being able to help them. The way to get started is to do so in some way — charge what you can, maybe a fee for success, or maybe no fee at all and just ask them to introduce you to three other entrepreneurs they know if they are happy with your advice. Think of it as investing the time to build your business. Many businesses take years before they are profitable, and if you’re serious about this you shouldn’t feel bad about starting out this way — and it’s always better in life and business to deliver more value than what you have been paid to do. Happy customers will tell others about you and word of mouth can be very powerful.

Don’t waste your time with obvious no-hopers, opportunists, or people you don’t inside feel you can trust.

When you have some track record then you can approach the gatekeepers and connectors — journalists, people that know people, experts in your field. If someone with standing says positive things about you that can work wonders. But you have to earn it, and offer something in order to develop those relationships, and by that I don’t mean I use you, you use me.

Writing or speaking is a good way to reach people — but the way the works is that you give something valuable away for not much, and people learn about you, talk about you, and eventually that translates into business. But if you are excessively calculating about it you may miss out on opportunities, because good things can come out of the most unpromising beginnings.


Originally published at www.quora.com.

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