Step One: Engage with your community.
Trust is the single most important factor when it comes to how people make decisions about whom to hire to provide them with professional services, and this is especially true in relationship-based businesses.
Your ability as a business owner to demonstrate your trustworthiness to your target audiences is at the core of your marketing and business development strategy, and will determine its success or failure.
The problem is that trust takes a long time to build and can be lost in an instant. If you make it a priority to establish your trustworthiness early and constantly reinforce it, then you will have a much easier time attracting and maintaining client relationships. Here are some simple ways to do this:
Engage with Your Community
It’s hard for people to trust you if they don’t know who you are. You can remedy this by taking every opportunity to get out into the community you serve and start building and developing relationships.
Some easy ways to do this include networking through a chamber or trade association; volunteering through a service organization like Rotary; or joining a club dedicated to one of your hobbies. The more face time you get with people in your community, the more familiar they will become with you and the more likely they will be to trust you.
Be Different in a Positive and Relevant Way
Many clients see professional services as a commodity, so it’s important to distinguish yourself from your peers by demonstrating a unique quality about your brand.
You can do this by creating and sharing content that shows your individual perspective while adding value to the reader; obtaining third-party validation in the form of published articles and awards; and by taking a singular position in the marketplace and reinforcing it in all of your marketing communications.
Look for Ways to Help Others Get What They Want
As you engage with the people in your community, they’ll tell you about the issues they’re experiencing in their businesses and what kind of solutions they’re looking for. This creates opportunities for you to give your contacts referrals; serve as a connector; and be a dependable resource for your community. Doing so will make you more likely to receive referrals and business opportunities through reciprocity and goodwill.
Give People Value for Free
Sharing marketing content that gives value to your target audiences can help you as well because it gives you the opportunity to increase your visibility while showing that you’re both an expert and a conscientious individual. In addition, sharing valuable content on a regular basis can give you many of the same benefits of advertising, but at a lower cost.
Do What You Say You’re Going to Do
People remember who helps them and who doesn’t, so if you help someone in a meaningful way, they’ll appreciate it and will probably look for ways to pay you back. However, if you make a commitment to someone and fail to follow through, they’ll never forget it.
Building trust with clients takes time and persistence, and it’s not something that happens overnight. Instead, trust grows in tiny increments like drops of water filling up a bucket. The more you demonstrate your reliability to the people in your community, the more likely they will be to trust you, hire you and refer business to you.