In life, when you're credible, the world and its riches are there for the taking. In fact, your only limitation is what your imagination can dream up.

But take away your credibility - and you become a captive that's trapped.

Your personal credibility works like currency - currency that will open up unlimited opportunities. Take that currency away, and you're stuck.

But take note: Credibility is not what you say you are. It's what others say you are. It's hard to earn, but easy to lose if you're careless.

Take the example of two American news correspondents: Walter Cronkite and Brian Williams.

Cronkite became the most trusted man in America through honest reporting. A man that had the power to sway a country's sentiment.

Williams doctored experiences and manufactured his credibility. He got caught and became one of the least trusted men in America.

As you well know, credibility matters... a lot. The more credible people say you are, the greater your chance of success in life.

Here are five proven ways to improve your credibility, which will make you a much more persuasive person:

1. Become an Expert

Credibility is a factor of your knowledge, preparation, and experience.

Think of it this way: You've just been told you have cancer. Would you put more stock into the treatment advice of a first-year resident, or that from a 30-year veteran?

You don't have to wait until you're a 30-year veteran to be credible - but you do need to be expert in your field.

It is your choice. You can try and look like an expert, or actually become an expert.

You can start small: Read the top 10 books in your field. Digest the top blogs about your field. Become industry-fluent using trade magazines.

It doesn't take much to start - but the dividends are tenfold.

2. Demonstrate Integrity

Being an expert isn't enough.

You may be the smartest person in the room, but if you do not act with integrity, it will not matter.

Luckily, living with integrity is easy: Just make it a practice to be open and honest.

Be willing to put your personal agenda aside when it's better for the greater good. Worry less about the circumstances or consequences, and more on living with integrity.

Doing so will set you well on your way to becoming a credible and persuasive person.

3. Show Respect

Lonnie Mayne, President of InMoment shares the quote, "Treat those who have more than you as equals, and those who have less as kings and queens."

That's because respect begets respect.

When you respect other people - an equal part of respect comes immediately back to you.

Break that rule and you'll find it hard to persuade anyone to do anything.

4. Be Authentic

Sometimes you'll be the leader that needs to be the steady hand in a turbulent environment. Sometimes you'll be the follower, waiting for your time to shine.

Regardless of where you may fall - it is important to always be authentic.

That means being transparent without hidden agendas. It means not putting on airs of supremacy. It means never overstating the truth, or over-promising results.

Be you and watch your credibility and persuasive factors soar.

5. Communicate Clearly

The way you speak speaks volumes about you.

Learn to speak clearly and articulately. Ambiguity leads to suspicion and mistrust. When people have to guess your meaning or intention, they begin to second-guess your motives.

Don't generalize and be confident. People will find you more credible, and you'll find your persuasive abilities increased.