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Denise Roseland on Building Credibility at a Distance

Greetings everyone! I am Denise Roseland, an independent consultant with Minneapolis-based Social Venture Research & Evaluation.

I have moved five times in four years and the benefit of working as a consultant is that my work moves with me.  While many of my clients were once in my backyard, the many moves mean we are now separated by considerable distance. Since we make a living providing expertise and advice, how do we build credibility?

Hot Tip: Create a sense that you are next door and have valuable expertise to share to build a solid reputation as a credible expert with current and potential clients.

  1. Use social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter – see us @SocialVentureEv, LinkedIn)…not to share gifts in Farmville but to link friends, followers and networks to appropriate, professional, online resources.  We routinely share links to articles about shifts in the policy arena where our clients do their work, share a tip when a new funding opportunity comes up that might relate to clients work, and occasionally a cartoon that pokes fun at evaluators, data geeks or researchers (we have a sense of humor about our work and want them to feel comfortable knowing we understand our quirkiness!).
  1. Write a feature for other organizational newsletters, a guest post on a blog or write a blog housed on your own site.  We find they love tips on administering a survey, ideas to invigorate data meetings, or an easy-to-understand summary of recent research in their field.  The idea here is make it real practical and make sure it is of importance to their work.
  2. Attend evaluation/applied research conferences and conferences in the fields where you do most of you work and network with others.  Make sure you have a well-developed “elevator speech” about your expertise and how your firm is unique or well-qualified in their field.
  3. Create virtual communities.  We routinely offer and participate in webinars and online discussion forums.  These virtual community events focus on a topic of interest or that is timely to our clients.  They also allow us to use a variety of experts as presenters, and are a low-cost way for us to share ideas and expertise with clients.
  4. Volunteer professionally.  Our team members regularly serve on proposal review teams with funding organizations, or serve on a state, regional or national committees in a field.  We have built a number of very beneficial relationships through this work that are a regular source of referrals.

Rad Resource:  For more information, refer to a related session handout from Evaluation 2011 available in the AEA public eLibrary.

Have suggestions of your own? Please add them to the comments for this post to extend the discussion.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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