Archive for October 25th, 2007

Let’s Talk About Trust

Let's Talk About Trust

When talking about the idea of “trust,” lots of folks tend to think it’s about honesty.

But trust is about so much more than that, and it’s something every Administrative Consultant needs to understand because it’s the one thing that forging new relationships with potential clients and cementing existing bonds with current ones hinges upon.

Trust isn’t merely whether someone is an honest person. That’s only part of it.

Trust also isn’t something that is handed over on a silver platter. That’s a fallacy that you need to get straight immediately.

You’re nuts if you think clients should grant you instant access to every part of their business. You might as well ask them to take their clothes off and walk naked down the street. Not gonna happen.

Yes, there needs to be minimum level of trust for any relationship to work, or to even begin, for that matter. But trust isn’t something that is handed over to you lock, stock and barrel right off the bat day one.

Trust is something that is both earned and grown into, with different levels being achieved as you continue to work together.

The more trust is established, the more will be entrusted to you.

For clients, trust is about feeling safe. It’s about feeling a level of comfort and confidence that the Administrative Consultant they are considering working with is competent, consistent, dependable, and will be well-worth the time and money invested.

This is where credibility and rapport come in. These are the feelings that help establish that first level of trust.

It’s why you need to have an address and contact information easily found on your website. This helps clients feel like they are dealing with a legitimate business that’s not trying to hide in anonymity.

It’s why your website should be as professionally designed as possible. Its appearance is going to directly impact how prospects view your abilities. They will both consciously and subconsciously correlate the look of your site with your skill level, professionalism and competence.

It’s why you need to write in a conversational way directly to your prospective client as if you were face-to-face. This helps establish rapport.

It’s why your website needs to be about them, not you. This is what helps prospects identify with your message, see that you understand them, their needs and the challenges they face, and feel confident that you have the solutions to solve those problems for them and reach their goals.

The next level of trust is achieved once you begin working together.

What comes into play here in instilling continued trust is consistency. Consistency in your demeanor. Consistency in your professionalism. Consistency in the quality of your work and service. Consistency in your follow-through and responses.

All these things trigger in clients the feeling that the other shoe isn’t going to drop any time soon. If you are inconsistent, flaky or “schizophrenic” in any of these areas, you’re going to shatter any trust that you’ve managed to create and actually create distrust and disharmony.

What happens then is that they won’t trust that they can relax with you and let go of control. They won’t trust that you will always follow-through. They won’t trust that you will get things done when or in the manner you say you will.

So achieving that second level of trust is going to be really important for the relationship to progress to the next level, which is when the client begins to allow you further into their business. If remote access is necessary to some of the work, this is the stage when it’s natural and appropriate for that trust to be granted. But try to assert that before the client is ready, and you risk damage to the relationship.

Trust is a sensibility that you as an Administrative Consultant need to be diligently and consciously aware of. Your understanding about how it works — how people work — is something you should be continually learning about. Don’t demand it from clients as your right — because it’s not.

You wouldn’t give a stranger off the street the keys to your house so don’t expect your clients to feel any differently about their business.

Instead, let them get to know what you’re about, who you are, what you know and what you understand about them — and consistently and proactively demonstrate those things, and it will be an entirely different story.