While doing some research for speakers for SugarCon, our annual user conference, I came across some interesting articles on trust in today’s technological age. We all know that trust has changed. Things that you wouldn’t have done 10 years ago (ride in cars with strangers for instance), we do today without batting an eye on rinse-and-repeat. Even outside of the bubble of Silicon Valley, we see this shift in trust occur. Instead of asking your nearest and dearest for a recommendation on a cheeseburger or even a doctor, we look for that pinnacle of perfection, a five-star review.
In college, I had a Statistics professor who told his class about how he had prepared a lengthy analysis for his dad who had mentioned off-handedly he was due for a new car. As this was before the internet, my professor ended up working for hours on the analysis for his dad, carefully comparing maintenance, safety records and cost in order to find the best car for his father. When he finally presented his findings to his dad, his dad thanked him but told him that the report was unnecessary because he would just go to the local dealership and ‘his friend’ there wouldn’t steer him wrong.
For years I’ve thought about—and retold—that story. I’ve used it in meetings, mentoring sessions, in interviews and in random conversations about how the world was changing. My professor assured us that his dad didn’t have a friend at the dealership, that he was talking about a salesperson who had helped him the last time he bought a car.
When I think of that story today, I ask myself how I can be “the friend” and build that kind of trust in a world that strives for 10x change year over year?
Here’s a few thoughts on an answer…
Operate with integrity. Whether for yourself or your business, being honest is essential in the modern world. Whether it’s word or deed, personal or business, demonstrated responsibility and integrity builds trust like nothing else. Just look out there in the world and you’ll see what I mean.
Listen. As my mother would say, “Listening isn’t just waiting your turn to speak.” Listen to what is being said and listen to what isn’t being said. Ask questions. And find commonalities.
Tell a story. It’s well documented that storytelling is a powerful sales tool but allowing others to know you builds connection which in turn builds trust.
I always speak to my ride-share drivers. I ask questions about their day, where they started it, if other passengers have behaved or not. I share a quick conversation with my barista while she makes my latte. She remembers me because of it. I keep in touch with my former interns and ask their opinions on everything from how to write authentic, relevant communication to apps and games they like. When the going gets tough, I own my mistakes and don’t push blame to others… and then I move on.
It seems like some very basic concepts. Too simple? My mother would probably say, “Nah.”