Trust & Credibility (the keys to business networking)

No, I’m not talking politics (even though some of the same rules apply), I’m talking about something much less nationally or globally important, yet still individually important – business networking. Trust and credibility are the two key factors in making someone’s business networking efforts go from zero results to being one’s number one lead generation source.

Who Should You Focus On?

Assuming you are in a typical business networking group where about 10% of the group is able to give you referrals. If these are the only people in your group who know decision makers who are likely to use your products or services, then you won’t even get any referrals from them unless they think you are credible – you are very good at what you do and they trust you to do it – they are confident you will execute on your promises. So work on developing relationships with those who are most able to help you. Don’t spend your time with the other 90% whose business or personal life does not consistently put them in contact with the same people you prospect.

Start With Trust

People don’t listen to what you have to say until they trust you. And if they don’t trust you then it doesn’t matter what you say, how good your ideas are or how good you may or may not be at servicing your customers. So what is the best way to build trust? It’s easy to say but hard to do:

  • Be yourself
  • Be honest
  • Reveal passions
  • Reveal challenges
  • Reveal fears
  • Listen
  • Ask questions
  • Help others without expectation of something in return
  • Express your “why,” express not what you do and how you do it but your “why,” your core beliefs. Watch the Simon Sinek video , now watch it again!
  • Write down how you want to present yourself, so others truly understand who you are.

Now here are few things not to do:

  • Don’t sell
  • Don’t brag
  • Don’t introduce yourself with a snappy tag line
  • Don’t provide solutions before you know what needs to be solved
  • Don’t talk poorly of others to make yourself seem better
  • Whatever you do, don’t say, “trust me.”

Credibility Comes Second

Once you get over the hard part of building trust, the credibility part should be a piece of cake. Credibility is fact based. It is based on what prior results and benefits you have provided to previous clients that are most similar to those you are currently prospecting. Tell about past success stories with clients. People don’t really care about what you do or how you do it, they care about the results, they care about the benefits your efforts have brought to other clients.

Trust is a belief, not a quantifiable metric. You want people to be “comfortable” with you. To have a “gut feeling” that you’re a good person to do business with. Remember, if there are three equally competent vendors all pitching the same client, who get’s the job every time? The one the client trusts the most. Build trust first, credibility second and watch your business networking group generate leads.

Jonathan Rosen is Founder of Collaberex, where he facilitates business development, peer advisory groups in the NY Metro Area, where all participants know the prospects of the other group members. Group meetings are designed around building trust.

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