Networking gives us all the opportunity to get to know people, hopefully get to like people and then, in turn, build that all important trust.
Trust makes us feel good in our personal and business relationships. But trust takes time to build and moments to destroy. The longer you know someone, the more you may come to like them (and their company, products, and services) and in most cases, are then likely to have some strength in the relationship to keep that trust intact when things go a little off at times.
So, let’s go over the all-important mantra of Know, Like, Trust.
The first part of building trust with someone comes in getting to know them. Relationships come and go, but often wain and then strengthen again over the years if we go the course and form life-long (social and business) friendships.
We get to know all the good and all the bad and all the in-between. We see their best and their worst.
Building relationships with business clients or potential ones is much the same, but formed over fewer meetings and less time together. We are after all meeting with them in a business setting. In most cases we are prepared for meeting potential clients and business partners. We have booked into events knowingly and should be prepared for making new contacts.
We dress in suitable business attire, put on our best smile, shine our shoes and off we go.
Before we step into the venue we may be wise to pause and to think, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” Scary!
“What if I haven’t cleaned my teeth properly?”
“What if I stumble over my words or get their name wrong?” (Note to self, “Bring the reading glasses Blunden!”)
This and more gets the nerves on edge.
Getting to know a new client involves breaking the ice. At networking, it can be as simple as, smile, handshake, introduction. They or you go first. It really is that easy. Speak your name clearly and give a brief overview of you and your company and then invite them to do the same.
Then listen! Ask more questions. Listen again.
Meeting people in person is great. It happens all too rarely in this digital age. But you can get to know them in cyberspace too before and after the event. Check out the guest list ahead of time. Search Twitter and Linked-In and Facebook.
The more you know about someone, the more questions you can ask and you will know them even better. Let them get to know you too. Your company, what it does and how it and you can help them.
The difficult bit.
At networking and in the business environment, we typically give a more polished view of ourselves as we should ideally be at our best. This needs to be an honest bit of you though, but in essence, YOU and not an act. Most people will work you out quite quickly if you are lying or being false.
Be kind to yourself though. No matter what a ‘good egg’ you are; no matter how much you raise for charity; no matter how good a friend, sibling, spouse or parent you are, some people just won’t like you. Sometimes there is an instant connection. Sometimes it takes time. But sometimes, and hopefully not too often, you just won’t get along. If you are professional though, it may not matter that the client likes you overly. They may still be happy to deal with you and your colleagues if the product or services you offer are just what they need right now.
If they don’t like you – if there is just no gel – then perhaps share the responsibility of networking with other colleagues who may gel with people you don’t, and vice-versa. Above all, don’t take it personally.
The last piece of the puzzle is purely down to you and your colleagues. Trust is built in many ways. Trust takes time, effort, honesty.
It’s always best to ‘under promise and over-deliver’ than the other way around (a personal bug-bear). Do what you said you were going to do and when. Deliver what you said you would and on time. If you can’t, put your hand up and let them know. Tell them how you will solve the problem and make it up to them.
Building trust is why you need to keep going to networking events on a regular basis. People want to know you are not a fly-by-night business. Regular meetings and encounters gives you time to build the relationship and the trust.
The KNOW happens quite quickly and easily. I know lots of people. Lots of people know me.
I LIKE a lot of them. I hope a lot of them like me. Some won’t. I don’t like them all. Sometimes I can’t say why. Sorry.
The TRUST bit takes time. Honesty is key. If you build trust and make a genuine mistake, be honest, then it can be fixed. Make a mistake and lie, and it’s likely the end of it.
“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar
Networking gives you and your business the opportunity to get to know lots of people. You must keep going. Attend regularly. When people see you there often, when they have had lots of time to talk with you, hear you deliver talks, heard you been given endorsements by others, then the trust will come. The ‘like’ though, is all down to you, to them, and to chemistry!