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In the highly competitive small business world, it is of utmost importance to develop a level of trust between you and your clients. A strong professional relationship built on trust will bring you long term success through repeat business, loyal customers, and referrals. Here are some ways that you can improve your ability to establish trust in your professional relationships.
- Be real. Most people will likely be able to sense if you are being insincere. Tap into your true desire to help people find what they need, solve a problem they have, and provide excellent service. It will be clear to others that you are a genuine person, and they will begin to trust you. Nurture that trust over time.
- Be truly curious about everything. What are your clients looking for? How can you best serve them? Is there a more efficient way to conduct business that you haven’t thought of before? Become more inquisitive, and observe how other successful people operate. When your clients and colleagues see that you are always striving to improve, they will trust you as a person and as a professional. For example, a potential customer has just moved into the area and comes into your flower shop looking for an affordable option for his daughter’s wedding. He raves about the florist in his hometown and how he wishes he could still use him. Ask the prospect questions about why he loved this other florist so much and express your desire to fulfill that need. He will trust that you have his best interests in mind.
- Keep personal conversations private. Separating your personal life from your professional life is a crucial part of owning your own business. Even if you have customers who are also friends, make sure that any personal conversations you have had with them stay between you. An easy way to break someone’s trust in you is to spread their personal life around town. Even if they haven’t specifically mentioned that discretion is needed, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution.
- Become an expert. As the owner, you should be an expert in all things involved in your business. This includes products, industry trends, customer demands, marketing strategies, etc. Clients will trust someone they feel is knowledgeable about relevant topics and can educate them accordingly. If you owned a camera shop, and a customer came to you wanting something to get started as a beginning photographer but admits to knowing nothing about cameras, it would be your job to demonstrate your expertise. You would narrow down their choices, help them compare options, and ultimately guide them to making a wise selection. Your specialized knowledge will allow customers to trust your judgment.
- Help others and always be respectful. This applies to almost every part of life, not just business. However, it often goes overlooked when people are under pressure and stressed out. Maintain a pleasant demeanor and practice appropriate social skills. Even if you come up short in other areas, it is unlikely that you’ll make a bad impression by being a genuinely nice person. Always treat others the way you would want to be treated; this includes everyone from VIP clients to mail room interns.
Establishing trust is a necessary investment to make in your business. Treat others well and always conduct yourself professionally.
How do you establish trust with your clients and colleagues? Please share your ideas below!