Trust makes the world go round and we should all have faith in it, as Alice Elliott explained recently. Nobel Prize winning Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people prefer to do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.*
When building a network of trusted partners or advocates, trust is the magic ingredient that takes away the psychological resistance to buying from you or referring you to others. When people really trust you they want to do business with you because they know and feel that it is the right thing to do.
But it can take time to build that level of trust because it has to be earned and you usually earn it through the way you communicate. Here are some suggestions to build trust in business, both offline and online:
- Always share your knowledge freely; always give what you can to help people, to become the trusted expert. Support networking groups by becoming a speaker, writing articles or blogs, or giving people one-to-one networking time and sharing a tip or two. You telling me that you are a good accountant, business coach or sales person may not be enough for me to trust or buy from you. It is better to demonstrate that you really know your stuff.
- Be consistent in your actions. Always do what you say you will do, as people will have expectations and you don’t want to disappoint. If you say you send a monthly newsletter, one every three months won’t do. Showing up at a networking meeting or on social media once in a blue moon and then making up frantically for lost time, is inconsistent and can make you seem unfocused, non-committal and unreliable.
- Be transparent, be authentic. Let others get to know a little about the person behind the business. Let’s face it, if you are a solopreneur, then you are your brand, not your business. This means, for example, that it is not a good idea to hide behind your Facebook business page whilst ignoring the personal side of Facebook. If I can see that the two are hugely different (or just suspect they are), then which one should I trust?
- Listen carefully and pay attention to other people’s needs. People like to be heard and by trying to understand them, they will both come to respect and trust you. So hold back with your latest special offer or the product you are hoping to sell. Being sold to can create resistance, in my experience.
- Be honest and communicate openly. If something isn’t going to plan, don’t ignore the problem or sweep it under the carpet. There is nothing worse than not communicating in the hope that the problem will just disappear – you may find that your customer will disappear instead! Honesty and your desire to put things right will help your customers to continue to trust you; after all, nobody is perfect.
All of these tips work both offline when networking and online when connecting with your contacts via social media, and they work best in conjunction with each other. Always remember that all networking is about investing into strong relationships with people and referrals will often happen naturally when you have earned a person’s trust.
PS. If you would like to make your networking more effective and receive more referrals, please check out our “From Contact to Advocate(TM)” training manual.
Ute Wieczorek-King helps busy women to be well connected, visible, effective and profitable in business. You can connect with her via Twitter, the Success Network Community on Linkedin, or Success Network Recipes on Facebook. To sign up to her monthly newsletter, please visit the Success Network website.
Copyright 2012, Ute Wieczorek-King