Why would anyone buy something from you?

It’s tough to sell yourself, your brand and your services when you’re just starting out. You don’t have a long track record of success yet, so people have to take your word that they should trust you. Good news—there are ways you can help them along.

Act the Part

Peppy Miller winking
Fake it ’til you make it, and all that. If you act like a professional, people will believe that you are one—including you. Little things make a big difference, and the way you communicate is super important:

  • When talking about your company, say “we” not “I”—even if you’re the only employee
  • Speak clearly, and don’t mumble. Look people in the eye and stand tall
  • Say “I am a [insert dream job here]”, not “I’m trying to be a [insert dream job here]” or “I’d like to be a [insert dream job here]”
  • Don’t apologize for your dreams

Exhibit A:

“I’m, um, kind of a writer. At least, I’m trying to be. I know it’s kind of a tough field to make it in. So, I’ll see if anyone will hire me nervous laugh.”

OR, “Hello, I’m a professional writer with Made Up Company Media. We produce content for websites, e-newsletters and e-books.”

Who would you hire?

Do Your Homework

Hermione doing research in the library
Know your field inside out. If someone strikes up a conversation with you about the industry you’re in, you should have useful, interesting stuff to contribute. Learn about the history of your field. Check out blogs and podcasts that relate to what you do.

Also, research the shit out of your peers and competitors. Follow them on social media, and sign up for their newsletters. Knowing all about the industry will reassure potential clients or employers that you know what you’re doing.

Get Social

Parks and Rec crazy party
Ever wish there was a free, simple way to interact with industry leaders around the world, get your voice out there and show you know what you’re talking about?

Oh yeah, it’s called Twitter.

Polish up your social media profiles (or the profiles of your new business) and get posting. Be respectful, respond promptly, and contribute useful things to discussions. The same goes for Facebook, Instagram, and any other channels you engage in.

Look Sharp

Barney Stinson in suit
Sorry—your days of mismatched socks and old sweatpants are over. Starting today, you’ve got to stick to clean, well-fitting clothes in good condition.

Yes, of course you can still wear that offensive t-shirt when you’re watching Netflix at home. But if you’re attending classes, conferences or meetings, you’ve got to dress the part.

The same goes for your online presence. You can’t be directing potential investors to a crappy site, or sending cold emails from your Yahoo account. You need a polished website, a legit domain and professional email. Luckily, you don’t need to hire a whole team of developers to make that happen. Rebel and Weebly have got your back.

Make sure all your content is consistent and well-edited—hire an editor if you can. Spelling and grammar mistakes make you look like an amateur.

Get Involved

Glee club dancing
When you see something a bunch of times, you tend to like and trust it more. It works for ads, and it can work for you. If your name rings a bell, people are more likely to want to hire you or use your services. And why would they have heard of you? Because you:

  • Joined a professional organization in your field and went to all the meetings
  • Attended classes, seminars and meet-ups
  • Chimed in on relevant Twitter chats
  • Wrote a fascinating guest blog piece on an industry publication

So do those things.

When you just graduated from school or just started your first company, it can be tricky to convince people that you’re a worthwhile investment. But you don’t have to have a laundry list of awards and past successes to show that you’ll do a great job. If you’re well-informed, involved in the community, and look like you know what you’re doing, you’re going to be just fine.

Photos: Stocksnap.io, Giphy, The Next Web, Giphy, The Fashionisto, Glee Wiki