Despite the ease and convenience of the digital age, people still care about who is on the other end of the Internet vacuum. You can only hide behind your online persona for so long – 92 percent of consumers say that they find word-of-mouth recommendations to be the most influential. Earning the trust of your customers and colleagues takes time though and some strategy. If you really want to build trustworthy character, you must:
Work late. If you want to improve your reputation at work and prove who you are as a business person, you have to put in the hours. When your clients, customers and employees see you working away they will know you are invested in your brand.
Shake hands. You won’t be able to meet all of your clients face to face, but make an effort. You should also look for ways to meet up with business partners and colleagues on occasion. Digital communication is convenient but nothing beats an in-person handshake when it comes to building trust.
Keep up. If you take the time to open social media accounts, take the time to keep them updated. The same is true of a blog. If current or prospective customers visit any of your online locations, you want them to see professionalism. If you do not make the effort to stay up to date on your own sites, how can a client expect you to take time with them?
Think forward. Never stand still when it comes to building up your personal brand and growing your business. Show that you are not comfortable in stagnation and others will want to go on the journey with you.
Apologize. When you mess up, fess up. Genuinely. Mistakes happen and can actually present a great opportunity to build trust. Show the person or people that you are willing to right anything you have wronged. The adversity may work to your advantage because you will be able to show your strength of character and your determination to stand by your word and name.
Reach out. Find a cause to back that shows you care about more than simply making money. This can mean actions that pay it forward to your clients or include community outreach. Give a charity some free ad space on your site or volunteer a few hours at your local animal shelter. The help you provide to others, however small, is the payoff and building up your good reputation is just a bonus.
The thing about trust, in professional or personal realms, is that it often takes a lot of time to cultivate and a fraction of that time to lose. Keep that in mind as you grow your personal brand. Being trustworthy is not something that you can turn on and off; it is a professional lifestyle.
How do you earn professional trust?
Image via Flickr on Creative Commons
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.