One of the toughest things about dropping out of college is figuring out how to get people to take you seriously.
Most people still see the bachelor’s degree as a baseline certification.
This is starting to change, but until it does so completely, there are a few other things you can do to establish your credibility.
If you can complete the 7 steps below, people will see you as a professional, guaranteed.
This one is simple. Your email address should look like this,
I can’t stress enough how unprofessional it is to have a silly email address. And I know a lot of young people do, because I receive emails from you about dropping out of college.
Here are some examples of what NOT to do,
No, no, and no!
Trust me. A solid email address will go a long way.
And don’t worry if you’ve had a ridiculous email address for years. I did too. Just make sure to change it now that you know better!
I don’t do a lot of social media.
LinkedIn is one platform you want to be on.
And you need to do it right.
I don’t care how old you are or what industry you are in. LinkedIn is important.
Here’s what to do,
- Create an account (it’s free)
- Upload a professional picture
- Fill out your work history and bio
- Make connections, starting with friends and family. (And me, if you want!)
3) Create a personal website
There are so many easy ways to do this for free or very, very cheap. Check these platforms out:
A website/blog does three things for you:
- Connects all of your social media to one hub
- Showcases your work portfolio
- Allows you to practice your writing
Here are two beautiful examples of personal websites from fellow college dropouts:
4) Start writing on your personal website (keep a blog)
This is huge.
Do you know why?
Becoming a better writer will accelerate your career and enrich your life (regardless of what you do for work.)
The best way to do this is to incorporate a blog into your personal website. Write about anything. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to achieve anything tangible with your writing.
It is an end in itself, trust me.
That said, it will also make you a better speaker, a more effective communicator, and an all-around badass. Even if no one ever reads it.
5) Dress better
Just read this incredible post on what happens when you dress well. It was written for guys but most of it applies to women as well.
Whether we like it or not, our appearance matters. It matters a lot. And you can use that to your advantage, regardless of your age, credentials, or experience.
Here is a great guide on dressing better. Again, it was written for men but anyone can benefit from it.
This includes getting a haircut, shaving, etc…
Investing in your own appearance is one of the wisest things you can do.
6) Clean up social media
In high school, teachers used to tell us to be careful about what we put on Facebook. I ignored them about pretty much everything, however…
They were absolutely right about the Facebook thing, ironically.
There is no distinction between your work life and personal life. Social media destroyed the wall that divided them. Potential employers, clients, co-workers, etc. will all be looking at your social media profiles.
Only put something up if you want everyone to see it. Seriously.
7) Know people (this one is huge)
I was recently talking to someone who is a part-owner of a company I want to work for. The only reason he agreed to take my call was because a mutual friend vouched for me.
Throughout the conversation, he mentioned three other people:
- One of his very successful friends
- One of his up-and-coming competitors
- An industry connection
Here’s the crazy part.
I knew all three of them personally.
When he realized this, I gained instant credibility. He thought,
Wow, this kid knows people.
How did I know those people? I actively network. What does that mean?
Honestly, most of the time I just email people and ask them how they got to their current position. I get responses more often than not. People love to talk about themselves.
Pick a niche or industry you are interested in, find ten people who are rockstars in that field and just reach out to them. Ask them for advice. Ask them what you should do to get to their position. If you live in the same city, maybe you can even buy them coffee.
Then, you can tell people you know them. That goes a LONG way in establishing credibility.
Do you have any other tricks for establishing credibility even when you don’t have a degree? Join the conversation below.