The way you build trust is one person at a time. After all, it takes only one bad apple and an entire organization, company or even industry can be affected, often with repercussions difficult to overcome. The very premise upon which my entire Endless Referrals System® is based highlights this principle:

“All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.”

Why is trust so important? For one thing, because of all the news stories about untrustworthy business people taking advantage of others. (Of course, news media wouldn’t sell advertisements by reporting, “Boy Scout returns lost wallet,” or “Supermarket provides thousands of dollars of foodstuffs to homeless shelters.”)

Trust is vital to every human relationship, and it comes at a premium. Most people tend not to trust easily. For those able to elicit trust in others—hopefully, because they are indeed worthy of that trust—the world is their oyster. They will always thrive in business because they own the highest form of capital: a trusted name.

Often trust must be earned before you have the opportunity to do business with someone. Anyone can earn trust after doing the right things, but often, just to “get the shot,” you have to be the one among many whom your prospect sees as being worthy of his or her trust.

The question, is, “How do we create this trust?”

The answer is: 1) be trustworthy; and 2) be perceived as trustworthy.

A person is trustworthy by being principle-based. This means that there are certain absolutes and areas in which one will not waver. For example, she won’t steal, lie, cheat or break promises. He will always treat others with genuine kindness and caring, and consistently ask himself, “How can I make this person’s life better simply by having me as part of it?”

But it’s not enough to simply be trustworthy: one must also be perceived as being trustworthy. The marketing term “verisimilitude” is all about the appearance of truth. Ever hear the saying, “Perception is everything”? Although this statement in itself isn’t true (the truth is the truth, whether or not it is perceived as such), in a marketing context this is absolutely correct. If people see you as being worthy of their trust, they will act on that perception—whether it corresponds to reality or not. And the opposite is also true.

An excellent way to create that perception of trust is through word of mouth. As copywriter Joe Polish says, “What others say about you is infinitely more believable than what you say about yourself, so let them say it.”

You develop this word of mouth by planting so many seeds of goodwill—by being trustworthy and doing trustworthy things—that word gets around.

And, of course, after earning that trust, you continue to earn it through your actions.

BOB BURG is a faculty member of Networking University
and a frequent speaker at networking conventions. He is the author
Endless Referrals, Winning Without Intimidation and
The Only Prospecting Guide You’ll Ever Need.