This week I attended a meeting where the importance of TRUST in business relationships was (again!) hammered home.
The speaker, a delightful lady named Peaches Quinn (her real name!), described 3 levels of relationships that you can enjoy with other people in your business activities:
- Unknown Commodity
- Known Commodity
- Trusted Advisor
Every relationship that produces value for you, your business or practice . . . must go through these three levels of trust. And the higher the trust, the greater the value you’ll see from it!
The Unknown Commodity
This is where we all start with another person. Unless and until they get to know you and begin to appreciate you, you’re just like every other ____________. In effect, you’re a commodity. UN-differentiated. And certainly not to be given free access to the valuable relationships the other person has developed in their ‘network of influence’ that you might like to meet and develop relationships with, as well.
The Known Commodity
This is where someone knows of you . . . but not very well. “Yeah, I think I’ve heard about her, but I don’t know her personally . . .” is what someone is likely to say about you at this point in the relationship-building process. At least you’re on their ‘radar screen’. (But you’re still a UFO!)
Further, while you may be known . . . you haven’t established your trustworthiness. As a result, the ability of this other person to endorse you to the people in her network . . . will be limited. And, understandably, so!
The Trusted Advisor
This is where someone knows, likes and trusts you both personally and professionally. This takes time to develop. Because you’re now seen as a unique and valuable (which is the definition of ‘differentiate’, by the way!) to someone, you’re no longer “Like all the other ___________s”. You’re special. Like the Little Prince and the Fox (you did read that as a child, I hope!).
Achieving this status with someone makes it easier for them to open the doors to their kingdom . . . to their network of influence . . . of people who have come to know, like and trust . . . them.
The ‘Real Life’ Example:
I just sent a note to someone I saw on an online social network I belong to . . . inviting them to have a discussion with me about an opportunity to collaborate that I felt, based on their profile and posts, would be appropriate and potentially of interest and value to both of us.
I indicated that I was not seeking to sell this person anything. I just wanted to have a conversation about a topic that might prove to be of mutual interest. A short time later, this person called me on the phone. It was, no fault of this person, an awkward call at best. It didn’t go well. Why? Because despite the disclaimer that I wasn’t connecting to sell this person anything, that’s all this person could focus on . . . .”Look, what are you selling? (to him, nothing) “I don’t know what you’re asking me to buy” (again, nothing!) What’s this going to cost me? (NOTHING!). Long story short, I had to end the call because the other person began spewing out a litany of protestations to issues that weren’t being brought up in our conversation . . . yet they were real . . . in his mind.
The ironic — and sad — thing was . . . I was authorized, by a separate client, to give this person $600 . . . with ‘no strings attached’ . . . if he met two (2) simple criteria — and buying something wasn’t one of them! But I never got the chance to make offer that because the ‘ghosts’ of past encounters with other people made him see me in a way that clouded his perception of what was truly ‘real’.
Absent a level of TRUST . . . of DIFFERENTIATION . . . of PREFERENCE over others . . . the reality I offered this person was being obscured by the reality of past encounters with many others who had lied about their reason for calling, misrepresented themselves or did other things to make this person highly suspicious and skeptical of anyone they didn’t already know, like and . . . TRUST!
The Take Away
In your dealings with other people . . . you want to establish TRUST . . . as quickly and completely as possible. If you don’t, the potential value of that relationship for you will be diminished accordingly. Please, don’t let this happen. Learn how to develop trust with others . . . and then leverage that trust . . . to open up new opportunities for your problem-solving skills and abilities to be used on behalf of your clients and . . . of benefit to yourself.
If you’d like to learn more about how to build trust . . . in your business relationships . . . check out our weekly telecall: Marketing Made SIMPLE!