This is the first in a series of two articles discussing the importance of credibility for business owners—and how to improve it.

Credibility plays an essential role in the sales process. At some point, your prospect is going to ask himself (or maybe even ask you!) why he should trust what you have to say. He is going to wonder why you are the right person to get the job done for him. As the CEO of your business, your personal credibility goes a long way towards establishing whether or not prospects will take your business seriously—and whether they’ll be willing to write you a check.

Think about this for yourself. Let’s say you need a new accountant, or retirement advisor, or even a doctor or dentist. How are you going to choose? I’m willing to bet that nine out of ten times you are going to choose the service provider that appears to be a leading expert in his field.

The question facing you as a business owner, then, is how can you make yourself appear to be an expert in your field? What can you do to differentiate yourself from the competition in your market and inspire the type of confidence that will make prospects choose you over the competitors?

There are a number of tactics that you can use. We’ll examine three today, and three more in part two of this series.

Write and publish a book. Yes, I know that writing a book sounds intimidating. To be frank, it is a difficult process. But the boost of credibility that you receive upon completion is tremendous. You’re no longer just a random guy or gal with an opinion… you’re an author.

Pursue public speaking opportunities. Most people are terrified to speak in public. The moment you establish yourself as a respected speaker in your industry, your credibility shoots through the roof. Look for opportunities to speak at conferences or seminars related to your industry. It’s a credibility booster, and you never know how many future clients are sitting in the audience!

Use your social media presence to provide value to your audience. Your business should have a social media presence. And you should leverage that presence to build your own expert standing. You can do this by keeping your audience aware of breaking news in your industry, and even more importantly by breaking that news into meaningful bits of information. As a CPA, for instance, you could use Twitter to keep your clients aware of the impact that new tax laws will have on their business. By taking complicated information and breaking into plain English, you send a powerful message of competence and expertise to your audience.

Stay tuned for three more steps to increasing your credibility in part two of this series!