How Do You Build Trust?

With all the uncertainty in the world today, what is the key skill required to become a better leader? Over the past several weeks we’ve seen how important trust is in making an organization successful. The Facebook IPO has reminded us again how important it is to maintain trust with key stakeholders.  The biggest challenge Facebook faces is restoring the confidence in their products and services for investors. With all the hoopla surrounding their IPO and the fact that their leader Mark Zuckerberg has been unavailable for comment have all led to a decrease in the stock price of over 20% since the initial public offering. The price should begin to level off, but not before many early investors lose significant money and, more importantly, faith in Facebook’s potential future.

We are moving into a time where selling ideas and solutions is becoming increasingly important.  Trust is critical to being effective at selling your ideas and concepts to a market with decreasing trust and certainty. It is also critical because in most situations people do not present ideas and solutions in their finished form.  Trust is the critical glue to holding the relationship together through all the challenges.

So, how do you build trust?  I’d like to share the three keys to building trust in uncertain economic times.  These proven strategies will help you build trust with your clients today and also provide the foundation for long term, successful relationships in the future.

Key #1 – Be consistent.  With all the uncertainty in our global markets, the person who is most consistent will get the most trust. With all the major changes going on today, the person who appears to be consistent has a decided advantage over those who change direction every day.  Who do you trust, the person from whom you know what to expect or the person who is constantly changing direction? It is critical for you to be consistent. We need to be consistent to earn the trust and ultimately the business of our best clients and partners.

Key #2 – Be honest. This key is easy to say, not so easy to implement. When you start out your career it’s easy to be honest because you don’t have the baggage or the experience that helps you change how you see things.  Cultivating the reputation and actions of an honest person will serve you over the long term. To be successful today, you owe it to yourself to be honest.  It will make your life much easier. Start when the numbers are small and when the numbers are large you will be used to doing the right things for you and your stakeholders.  I’ve found more problems have occurred with me and my clients when one of us has shaded the truth or overestimated our capabilities.  Learning how to not redraw the lines is critical to building a long term partnership with your best clients. When you make a mistake, getting out front of it and explaining what you did wrong will help you establish your honesty credentials over and over again. If you’re a successful entrepreneur, you’re going to make mistakes. Being honest about them will help you grow and be more successful.

Key #3 – Learn to say No.  I think this may be the most important. It is the foundation of building trust. I see more people get into trouble because they are unable to say no.  I’ve spent more of my coaching time with clients working with them on saying no quickly and then not agonizing over their decision. Most of my entrepreneur and nonprofit leaders share this common challenge. They believe they have achieved their success because of their ability to say yes to new opportunities and markets. They get into trouble because they are unable to say no to time consuming activities that will pay little or no return on their time invested.  Learning to say no when bad opportunities occur is critical to managing your time and your life. I have seen more organizations chase more opportunities than they can ever implement in their lifetimes.   Understanding what you do better than others will help you become more selective with your yes’s and your time investments. Learn to say no and you will surprised how much stronger the key relationships in your life become.

Trust is a skill that can help take your life to a different level. It is something that can be lost in a moment, but gained only through hard work and dedication. You must focus on it if you hope to good at building trust and today trust can help take you to the top of your field.

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