Have you ever considered what makes you trustworthy? What exactly is it that makes someone say “I like him, he seems like a guy I can rely on for good advice” or “I wouldn’t mind working with her on a team.” In the real world, sometimes, this takes a lot time to determine. In the digital world however, I’ve found that there is a very thin line between people drawing the conclusion of whether or not you are worth trusting; especially if you’re an expert and you want people to hand over their dollars for your product or service. Actually you’re probably judged more harshly if this is the case.
Some time ago, I saw a vehicle salesman post an ad online and described himself as one of the most “trusted” sales professionals in his field. Shortly after, a barrage of comments came in and many of them said something to the effect of “whenever someone says they are trusted, I tend not to trust them…” In speaking to my then sales coach, he mentioned that in his experience, sales professionals in Trinidad & Tobago tended not to consider branding or at least training on personal branding as important as selling. Naturally I was a bit taken aback. I thought to myself, “how are people ever supposed to trust them if they don’t know them?” So i started thinking about, what it really takes to build trust, especially in the digital space.
As an expert building your personal brand, winning consumer trust means you have to spend time carving out your space. This isn’t only reserved for experts looking to grow their own businesses but also for professionals looking to grow their brand as they climb the corporate ladder. Companies enjoy nothing more than a loyal employee who brings the residual benefits of reach and revenue that come with having a strong personal brand. While digital has given us the chance to 10x our reach and visibility, it has also given a voice to charlatans. Therefore as experts, we have to spend even more time, communicating with our audience, differentiating ourselves and building that relationship. Here are a few ways to build trust in the online world.
Quality images send such a strong message. Digital is a very visual world. It’s the reason why memes and GIFs have completely changed the way we engage. It’s the reason why smartphone designers and manufacturers have spent inordinate amounts of time improving the cameras on their devices. It’s also the reason we book photoshoots and update our portfolios, website and social media accounts periodically. If you’re really looking to make an impact, start with one of the lowest hanging fruit by building trust visually, by looking the part and representing the quality you claim you can deliver. Good visuals can start lucrative conversations. If you’re ready to upgrade your personal brand with some new photos, click here to learn more about my concierge phootshoot experience and let my team and me take care of you
I can never preach the gospel of good content enough. If you want to create awareness create content. If you want to hold interest create quality content that speaks to what you can do to help customers. Content should not be focused on what you can do, but it should really be an expression of how you and your skillset can add to customers’ lives. It’s actually tough and sometimes totally boring to explain technical work to customers. The reality is the overwhelming majority don’t want to hear about your technical work, they just want you to communicate in a way they understand and alleviate their pains. While this sounds like a broken record to a sales professional, the difference is that someone who is serious about brand growth talks this talk even when a sale isn’t imminent. They understand the power of laying the foundation to build loyalty for the long term and not just convert for the short term. This is what makes content “quality” and moves you out of the realm of a simple “documenter” to an educational storyteller. This is how you keep interest. If you want help with your content, you can grab my digital content calendar that will give you loads of ideas on what you should be creating to connect with your audience.
Give advice that brings quick wins
Virtual scammers are a dime a dozen. If however, you’re as good as you claim you are, giving a person a taste of what it’s like to engage with you in foolproof way to gain interest and win trust. Can you think of a better way to earn someone’s trust than giving them an unexpected, risk-free, delightful experience by offering them actionable advice that brings a quick win? Share some hack or something you use in your own line of work that has brought results. Even if the transformation is small, it’s a transformation. This creates a sense of closeness and trust with your followers.
Take advantage of the Halo Effect
In my opening paragraph, I mentioned a salesman I saw online declaring his trustworthiness. This is probably one of the most ineffective ways to build a good working relationship. Trust is so deeply psychological and is many times determined within the first few seconds of meeting or seeing someone. The Halo Effect explains this more deeply. First put forward by Edward Thorndike in the 1920’s the Halo Effect is a form of cognitive bias that people experience. It stems from using one or two perceived qualities in a person to automatically assign other similar qualities to them. So for example, if someone who is good looking and speaks confidently they are often times assumed to be a good potential partner, honest, kind and trustworthy. The opposite also holds true as well. If someone appears unkempt and reserved it’s often assume that they are weak, dowdy or incompetent. Establishing trust can happen even when we don’t recognise we’re doing it. Starting out with positive traits can have long lasting effects. In other words, first impressions count. It’s the reason we spend time grooming ourselves and presenting our best face at every opportunity, especially when we’re selling. As much as we’d like to think we “don’t judge books by their covers” we do. Just ensure you have the best cover possible.
Reviews are like the crypto-currency of trust. It can really make or break you online. How many times have you gone to Amazon to shop and after looking at your items, headed straight to the reviews before deciding to buy? Your offline clients may have done wonders for you, but now that it’s time to “level up” you need to increase your reach and impress the people online just like you did the ones offline. Reviews are one of the fastest ways to establish trust with potential clients. Imagine how much easier your sales pitch would be if other people paved the way for you through good reviews. Having a third party endorse you has much more power in building trust than you tooting your own horn, like our car salesman friend. Be sure to collect your reviews after each sale, they are like your gold coins so don’t be afraid to ask customers to give their feedback on your Facebook page or Google business profile If you want to see how powerful reviews are check out this hilarious and elaborate scheme called “The Shed at Dulwich” to understand how reviews can be drive awareness, interest and sales.
Decide who you are and stick with it
This might sounds like something out of a M.Knight Shyamalan movie, but have you ever seen someone purport a huge personality online and when you actually meet them, they are a totally different person? I don’t know about you but that is one thing that confuses definitely confuses and in some cases disappoints me. Call me a dreamer, but I actually expect people to fundamentally be the same on and offline. Sure, they might turn the volume up and down on their engagement and excitement but I don’t expect them to have a different personality. This comes across as highly inauthentic. Just as reviews can come in for good work, so will reviews for unpleasant experiences with you. If you are in the brand and relationship building game ensure that you’re built for this arena. If you have no interest in genuinely helping people while you grow, don’t waste your time trying to win trust or build a personal brand. People will see straight through you.
Grow your relationships with comments
This is another chapter from the book of the gospel of content for personal branding that I won’t stop preaching. Taking 1 minute to write a response to a comment you received or to make a comment on someone else’s content can have a lasting impact in the digital space. This simple action helps you foster relationships and opens doors to trust and loyalty. Don’t be basic in your response either. If you want to be remembered leave a memorable comment. Being silent online is like being “dead” in the real world. Not to mention the algorithm works much better for you when you do. Don’t let it happen to you.
Trust is the nucleus of all relationship. If you want people to invest time listening to you, taking your advice and certainly buying from you, they have to trust you and that only comes from show up meaningfully. Don’t skip this step. Play the long game to build those relationships and it will pay off 10 fold in the future.