By Nicky Thomas

In networking circles, we frequently bound around the ‘Know – Like – Trust’ formula as the tried and tested route to delivering sustainable referrals for our business. But how often do we take a step back and consider how it really works in action?

It sounds simple. Have a coffee; get to know and like each other and hey presto the trust is formed…and the referrals come rolling in. I think we all know it takes more than that.

What is Trust?

Trust is the ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something’, which says a lot about how much is expected of us in order to achieve success from the ‘Know Like Trust’ formula.

Building and maintaining trust does not happen overnight; nor is there an easy route to achieving it. It takes time and effort to establish ourselves as a trusted person and we have to keep working hard to maintain it.

People in networking situations often give up long before the magic starts to happen because they are impatient and too hungry for a sale. Networking is not a sales activity, it’s a relationship building exercise that we need to nurture over time if we want them to deliver positive results.

The truth is, when we make a referral, we put our valuable reputations on the line. So, we’re not going to risk recommending just anybody. We need to ‘trust’ that the referral will be a positive experience for the recipient, otherwise we risk devaluing the referrals we make in the future.

How do we gain the confidence of our network?

To gain someone’s trust we must prove ourselves in three vital ways: Reliability, Credibility and Reputation…and they are not negotiable. You need ALL of them.

Reliability

  • Demonstrate that you are dependable, honest and consistent.
  • Follow through with everything you say you’re going to do.
  • Show up, be active and conscientious.
  • Consistently attend your networking group and make sure you look for ways that you can help and support your fellow members. This is a great way to show off your authenticity and your ability to deliver. You’ll soon lose respect from those around you if your attendance is patchy and you let people down. Your actions showcase what you’re capable of – so make them count!

 Credibility

  • We need to believe that you are the best person for the job. Be sure to portray yourself as genuine, organised and proactive at all times – especially in your networking groups, where people will be assessing your credibility before taking the step to refer you.
  • Make use of every opportunity to prove your expertise and competency.
  • Actively communicate your successes to your network so that others will recognise you as being outstanding in your field.
  • Take the time to do some favours for the people you network with. It’s a great way to build a relationship and show that you are a credible member of the team.

Reputation

  • Work hard on establishing a strong reputation for being the kind of person that other people want to do business with.
  • Your reputation is the sum of the opinions and beliefs that others have of you, so remember, you are always showcasing who you are and what you stand for. This includes how you conduct yourself at networking events or the comments you make on social media. They all contribute to the overall picture and can make or break your reputation.

It might seem like hard work, but don’t give up to early! The results speak for themselves…

While you have got to be in the trust gaining business for the long haul, sticking with it will, in time, deliver a sustainable marketing resource for your business. You just have to accept that getting to Know, Like and Trust people requires many different types of interactions and a fair amount of patience if you want to develop strong, durable and valuable relationships.

Nicky Thomas is a Regional Director for BforB Referral Networking with groups in Beverley, Hull, Doncaster, Grimsby and Hull.