Dear Danielle: What Can You Tell Me About Credentialing?

Dear Danielle:

What can you tell me about getting credentialed? I have worked as an administrative assistant for over eight years, so I feel I am qualified to start my own business. How important is it? And where is a reputable organization to obtain training, if needed? —FA

I personally don’t think you need to get credentialed.

Virtual Assistant industry designations have no meaning to clients; they don’t know CVA from MVPA to QBCPAMVAP. And these days, questionable organizations are springing up left and right in our industry who will sell “credentials” to anyone willing to pay.

(Here’s a tip: If the business–and make no mistake, it’s a business to them–trying to sell you “credentials” can’t themselves spell or articulate like a grown-up professional organization, that’s a good clue that they don’t have any business credentialing anyone, much less taking your hard-earned money.)

My advice, save your money.

The most important credential and qualification you need to be offering professional level services is your administrative experience and masterful skills. When folks ask about getting credentials, what they’re really asking is “How can I prove to clients that I am skilled?”

Well, first you have to take the word “prove” out of the equasion. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, especially if you know darn good and well what you are capable of. But what you do need to do for clients and prospects is instill and nurture trust, credibility and rapport.

You do that by demonstrating your skills, competence, intelligence and capability in everything you do… How your website looks, how you speak and write, how you craft your marketing message and materials, how you interact with prospects, how you follow-through with what you say you will do… these are the ways you “prove” to clients that you are what you say you are and that you can do what you say you can. Any “credential” you might plop on your site means absolutely nothing if you can’t back it up with these demonstrations.

So, forget “credentials.” If you’re intent on buying pieces of paper and wasting money, become a member of the Better Business Bureau instead (although I would still tell you to save your money). At least the BBB is a well-known organization that is widely recognized and established.

What would be a far more useful investment of your money is investing in business training. Because being highly skilled and knowing how to do the work is far different from knowing how to run a business. That’s where the learning curve is for most new administrative support business owners—learning how to run a smart, profitable, self-sustaining business.

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