A few coffee dates, luncheons or happy hours certainly will go a long way and getting to know someone, at least enough to become business acquaintances and casual friends.
Getting someone to trust you enough to hire you, though, well that’s the challenge. Just because someone likes you enough to go have drinks with you for a couple of hours doesn’t mean they trust you enough to invite you into their business, much less pay for the privilege.
Of course, the natural way to build trust in a relationship is organically over a considerable period of time, much like you would if you were dating or forming a new friendship, by spending a lot of time together, perhaps for months, even years. In business, though, time may not be on your side. Most likely, you want to be hired now, not a year from now. How, then, do you build trust sooner rather than later?
In my experience, there are five basic steps to building trust in business relationships and becoming what I like to call an “Indispensable Trusted Advisor” to your clients. They include:
1. Establishing credibility. This involves first, developing the necessary knowledge capital, perhaps through education and/or experience, and then formulating a philosophy, methods or systems within your area of expertise and publishing these ideas across multiple channels. (This could include writing books, blogging, speaking, article writing, podcasting, creating videos or any combination of the above.)
2. Appearing confident. You must appear confident about your ideas, skills and abilities. Notice, I said “appear.” The ultimate goal is to actually be confidence. Initially, though, you may have to fake it until you become it. The key is to step forward boldly and often. The more you put yourself out there the more confident you will become. Why is confidence important? Simply put: If you don’t trust yourself, how can you expect others to trust you and feel confident about all you say you bring to the table.
3. Effectively communicating. You can be a damn genius, but if you don’t tell people your thoughts, ideas and methods, then how can you expect anyone to even know about all that you offer, much less hire you. There are many ways to communicate your ideas and services (see No. 1 above), but make sure you clearly understand your own message before you start putting it out there. Whom do you serve? How do you serve them? How clearly and concisely can you articulate your value? What will you say to inspire others?
4. Creating a connection. So, what is the difference between communication and connection and why do we need both? Essentially, communication is a one way street. We have new thoughts and ideas we want to put out into the world. To ensure our message is being received, and to know how to refine it and make it more powerful, though, we must encourage commentary and conversation with others. We need feedback. Some will be good and some will be bad, but all are welcome. Why? Because trust builders aren’t dictators, they are diplomats.
5. Conversion. At the end of the day, we can speak confidently, authoritatively and clearly. We can invite and receive feedback. However, if we don’t ask for the sale (and learn how to do this effectively), then we’ll have a bunch of great relationships, but no buyers. In short, we’ll be operating a community or a hobby, not a business.
While these five concepts are pretty simple, execution (like anything worthwhile) is not. This process does take some work but, if you execute persistently and consistently, the reward will be worth it.