An essential part of giving and receiving referrals is building enough trust between you and those you network with ...
While you may get the odd person offer you a plum piece of work just because you sat next to them at breakfast, in reality, it's more likely to be after they've got to know you better and feel they can trust you.
When I ask people to list what things people do that makes them trustworthy they come up with a list, but there is always the rider, "You just know if you can trust someone. You feel it in your gut!"
As humans, we're brilliant at picking up unconscious signals from other people, both positive and negative. Mostly, this is done directly with our unconscious mind. In other words, our brains communicate with each other without us being aware. We translate these signals into messages about how we feel about the other person. Potential friend or foe? Can we trust what this person says or should we be wary?
Now, if this signalling is unconscious, how can we use it to influence whether the people we meet when out networking will trust us or not? We are giving out the signals whether we know it or not, so we can only consciously influence these signals obliquely by demonstrating our commitment to the other people in our network.
Here are my top 5 signals to give other people confidence that you are committed to them and they can trust you.
- Be there ... regularly
This shows that this group is important to you as you're willing to invest your time and money in turning up each time. As everyone in business is time poor, it demonstrates you have prioritised this group or event. It also allows people to see you over and over and judge your constancy. Their brains will be busy noticing subtle messages that indicate that constancy or alert them to anomalies.
- Be yourself ... but on a good day
No point in trying to blag it and pretend to be something you're not. Remember those unconscious brains are highly skilled cheat busters. On the other hand, you will want to signal your professionalism as well as openness and honesty. If you're a quiet, reflective type of person, be quiet and reflective; if you're high-energy and forthright, that's OK too. Be prepared to share the positive side of you and leave your worries and the frustrations at the door. You can pick them up on the way out if you still want them!
- Invest in the group members
The best way to signal that you are committed to the group is to demonstrate your interest in the other people who are there. Be prepared to ask them questions and to listen to what they say. The key to this is listening to what they say rather than spending the time you're not talking to come up with the smart response. If you do this, most people will reciprocate and ask you in return.
- Contribute to make the event/group a success
All the above build up a picture of someone willing to invest in this group or event. Take this further by actively contributing to it's continuing success. Often there are opportunities in networking groups to get more involved, and usually, the organiser welcomes you bringing others along as your guests. Most events have some degree of formality so ensure you engage with the agenda, whether it's standing up and talking about your business for a few seconds, listening to a speaker or joining in an exercise do it.
- Stay the distance
If you commit to the group then commit for the long-term! This is probably the strongest way to signal that others can trust you. If you are a charlatan, then you will have a vested interest in getting what you can from the event and moving on before getting found out. Also, your fellow networkers have had their cheat detector on you for a while so will have uncovered some of those unconscious anomalies that send an alert to their gut. Pass the test of time and the other attendees will become your best advocates, thus speeding up the time it takes for new people joining to feel they can trust you. If you keep moving on, you have to start the process all over again.
Just to summarise, if you want to build a strong network of people who have confidence that they can trust you then join groups or clubs or attend an event where you can mix with them regularly.
Demonstrate your trustworthiness by sending clear and unambiguous signals that you are committed to the group and trust will follow quite quickly. Are your signals working? Do you know which ones are having the effect you want? Do you know how to tweak them?
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.