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Building Trust

It’s All About Trust!

How long does it take to build trust? A day, a week, a month?

To my mind, it takes as long as it takes. It takes as much time as people invest in developing a relationship.

In networking circles, I so often hear statements such as: ‘I’ve been a part of the network for 6 months and I’ve got nothing out of it’, but when I dig into why this is so, I find that they haven’t invested any energy or effort into getting to know the people in the networking group.

Trust is subliminal. It’s instinctive. It’s a gut feeling.

Here are a few things that I notice, observe and that resonate with me when I meet people at networks. And all of these factors go to making or breaking the trust I feel towards someone. And most importantly, it’s this trust that is the litmus test and yardstick for me to measure whether I will refer someone to another business, or not and take that time to make the recommendation.

I work hard and I put a lot of effort into making connections and getting to know people. I do not for one minute expect people to network as prolifically as I do, but I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the facets and aspects that ‘colour’ my decisions.  You’ll have other things that impact on your decision to trust someone, and these will be based on your experience, perspective and many other factors.

  1. Showing Up

For different network groups, the frequency of networking meetings differs. For example, some meet once a week, others once a month and others are sporadic. A key pillar of building trust is showing up. Do you dip in and out or are you committed? How you show up speaks to this fact and is a fundamental in building trust with your fellow networkers.  Think about it for a minute: how do you choose your suppliers? How do you choose who you refer business to and put forward as recommendations? Would you choose someone who isn’t engaged or who doesn’t turn up? Would you choose someone who isn’t reliable and doesn’t follow up on what they’ve said they are going to do? Showing up matters. It shows engagement, commitment and a willingness to invest time and invest in your fellow networkers.

  1. What’s in a Name?

Well, the answer is everything. Your name is your identity and it’s sacred. Often when I’m on the phone and someone tells me a name, I ask to clarify the spelling. If you tell me over the phone your name is Deborah, is that with a ‘h’ or without? Eoin, Eoghan or Owen? Gene or Jean?  A lot of people write my short name as Gene, however this is the male version and doesn’t speak to me! Details make the difference and people really appreciate it when you consider them and acknowledge their name.

If you are being introduced to someone and don’t catch their name, ask them immediately to repeat it. ‘Sorry I didn’t catch that, can you tell me your name again please?’. People prefer to have it clarified and to make sure you can remember them… not that you go away not having a clue as to who you were speaking to.

And when you write to the connections, ensure you are getting their name right – it’s so, so important. It’s all about respect and attention to detail. It’s how you show you care…or that you don’t!

  1. What’s in a Name? Yep, I Wrote it Again.

Brand names, company names – cardinal sin to get them wrong. Just don’t. We have a wonderful tool called Google, so if you aren’t sure, look it up. Do NOT get a company’s name incorrect. It’s a sure-fire way to antagonise people and again, if you can’t get these important details right, what else are you going to get wrong. You are planting seeds of mistrust without even realising it.

  1. Gender

I lived abroad for a long time, so as my name is Jean, I was often mistaken for the French ‘Jean’, i.e. John, a man, and then I was Sig. Jean Evans or Mr Jean Evans – an instant way to make me press delete for an email received or to put post in the bin. In my previous life, I used to do a lot of trade shows, and people invariably collected business cards, added the details to a database and then emailed/spammed out content.  It was easy to see that it was a numbers game of collecting cards, rather than being mindful and strategic about building relationships. In my case, if you can’t take the time to check out my gender and know how to address me, why should I spend time on your service, product etc. Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s simple to avoid all of these faux pax, but are you making the effort?

  1. Spelling and Grammar

I’m a grammar nerd. I hate misspelling and bad grammar. I realise this isn’t something that everyone has, but if spelling isn’t your thing, there are tools, such as Grammarly, to help you ensure your copywriting and emails are word perfect. There are no excuses nowadays for badly written text and copy. If this isn’t your forte, then hire a professional to put the right spin on your product, service or blog and content in general. Everybody will forgive a typo (happens frequently with autotype) or the odd error, but constant misspellings and bad grammar, speaks to lack of attention to detail and to that all important trust factor that will be hindered.

Likewise, I’m a master proof-reader. One tip I will give is to print off your blog, content and even your email, particularly where the stakes are higher. You cannot proof from a screen, as your eyes only see what they want to see. Printing a document and reading it back to yourself is a sure fire way to catch errors, repetitive use of adjectives, bad grammar and it’ll also help you ‘catch’ other ideas you’ve forgotten to include in the first place.

  1. Values Are Aligned

If you are going to refer someone into a business, you need to know that your values are aligned. Do you know what your values are? If you haven’t thought about it like this, it’s worth taking a few minutes to jot down 5-10 words that express how you want to be conveyed, e.g. professional, service orientated, prompt, efficient, creative, solution orientated etc – is the person you are building a relationship with embodying these values? Are they a good representation of you? Remember, that who you promote and refer into businesses, is a direct reflection on you and your reputation, so make sure you know your ‘why’.

  1. Follow Up & Responsiveness

Do you do what you say you are going to do? I’ve mentioned it before; always have a pad and pen to hand. Always do your follow up. If you have offered an introduction, make it. If you’ve offered to help someone, do it. Timely responses, effective and meaningful follow up speak volumes about how trustworthy you are and how you value the relationship you are building with your fellow networkers in your networking meetings or at networking events.

  1. Invest in Your 1-2-1s

Spend time building relationships. Invest this time and effort; it’ll pay you back in spades. I made the mistake of referring people in too quickly when I first started networking and then it reflected badly on me, so I learned my lesson quickly. I only ever pass on referrals with people I’ve met, learned about and trust to back me up. As I mentioned in the previous points, reputation matters. Showing up matters. Attention to detail matters.

So what is a 1-2-1, I hear you ask? Well, this is where you spend 1 on 1 time with your fellow network professional. This can be done either in a face to face environment, over coffee or lunch or indeed, as is the way right now during this pandemic, through online platforms. Getting to know people is so important, as you need to know what makes them tick, how to refer them in and you need to ascertain whether they align with your values, so that you can refer them with confidence.

1-2-1s is a meaty topic in itself, so I’ll be delving into this in much more detail in a future blog, but in the meantime, if you have questions on how to approach this, do reach out and get in contact with me.