“All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
This quote from “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann sums up my philosophy on how people choose and cultivate their business relationships — really, any relationship where there is freedom of choice.
Say someone takes a liking to you. That’s wonderful, but what would it take for that person to trust you and why would that matter? Trust is at the heart of every business transaction, client (and personal) relationship, donation to an organization and other activities involving others. So, how is it that so many people get it all wrong, jeopardizing their relationships, business dealings and prospects?
Here are five notorious ways that people fail to build trust and how to turn them around:
A website that isn’t updated, or worse, nonexistent, erodes trust. And no, that “Under Construction” sign doesn’t fool anyone into thinking a business is at work developing a spot-on website. It says, in fact, the opposite, loudly and clearly: the business owner isn’t investing in his business on all fronts. That’s a no-no when it comes to building trust.
Ditto on only having social media accounts. They’re a start, but should not substitute for a company website, which can house content that a business controls and has the rights to, versus variable channels that can change in an instant, potentially pushing trust levels to the fringes.
If a business can’t follow through on its digital presence, thereby demonstrating its commitment to and belief in itself and its customers through the investment, why should anyone else trust in or feel comfortable committing to the company, either?
HEADSHOT OR MUGSHOT?
Company owners that love LinkedIn like I do probably have perused a lot of headshots on the business-networking site. And, like me, executives that spot head shots that look more like a selfie than a professionally staged photo, don’t take it as a good sign of the individual’s business standing — bad news for would-be associates and colleagues. Again, if a person is not willing to invest in a high-quality photo, why should we invest in or trust him or her?
ALL OVER THE PLACE
Ever hear the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none?” While it’s great to be versatile, to build trust a company and its leader should demonstrate competency in one area and promote that. Businesses that aspire to be the expert in everything are not expert in anything and that’s not a good way to secure or maintain others’ trust.
NO EARNED MEDIA
Most people trust what they read in earned media more than messages that come from paid advertisements. Earning key audiences’ steady respect through communications that come from people with high credibility, including journalists, makes observers more inclined to feel comfortable doing business with a company than they might be, otherwise. In a Nielsen global study from 2012, paid advertising exhibited a large gap in the “trust factor,” whereas “recommendations from people I know” scored with 92 percent of consumers as completely or somewhat trusting of the source.
Much can be said about the need to write as if one’s livelihood depended on it. Whether it’s a proposal, appeal letter, blog post, website copy, social media post or a press release, writing with care can help a business stand out among today’s communications’ clutter. It also can help a company build its brand, forward its mission and catch the interest of potential clients. Many decision-makers have shuddered at posts written in all caps or with poor grammar. As well, long-winded, incorrectly written press releases often are deleted on-the-spot by media pros that don’t have the time to rewrite a business’ or organization’s wrongs. What’s worse is that poor writing can corrode the level of trust a person or company has in the firm behind the ill-crafted message, potentially alienating new and existing business relationships. All communications should be proofed for content, accuracy and format before they’re issued. If a staff person does not have the correct skills to set the writing straight, a professional should be hired to do the work. There is trust — and more — at stake.
Ready to build your business? Start by building trust with your potential clients.
Filomena Fanelli is the CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications Ltd. (prwithimpact.com), an award-winning public relations firm based in New York’s Hudson Valley region and serving clients throughout the tristate area. Fanelli can be reached at 845-462-4979 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.