In Part 1, we talked about the 3 steps on the ladder that we go through whilst developing Visibility in the relationships that we have.

The first step is Awareness, that moment in time when people first come into contact with us. Either when they meet us in person or when they hear about us, in whatever way that may happen.

Step 2 is Familiarity. This is the point when people start to recognise you or your name. Interestingly, you don’t have to actually meet people to get on to this second step.

Step 3 is when people start to Know & Like you. This is when the relationship is starting to develop quite nicely, ready to move it on to the next phase.

The next phase is all about building Credibility and the steps we need to move through in order to gain credibility in our relationships.

Steps 4 & 5

You know when you’re on the 4th and then 5th ‘rungs’ on someone’s relationship ladder when they start to display a level of Confidence and then Trust, both in you and in what you do. This is a very important development in your relationship and moves you in to the realms of having Credibility in this particular relationship.

People are very unlikely to refer a personal contact to anyone that they don’t see as being credible. At least, not without making that referral with lots and lots of qualification and, effectively, removing any endorsement of the person being referred to their contact.

Given that the type of referrals we all look for are those that are accompanied by a powerful endorsement of us, and of what we do. Having a high level of credibility is essential if we want to achieve this.

Profitable Relationships

So what are some of the things that you can do to make sure that people develop Confidence and then Trust in you?

  • Keep developing the relationship – and develop it socially, as well as from a business perspective. The more that people like you, the more confidence they will have in you and the more inclined they’ll be to trust you.
  • If you want to be trusted, be trusting. Personally, I always assume that I can trust people, at least to some degree, from the moment I meet them. I may not show them a major level of trust to begin with but I adjust that level based on results – and people can go down my scale of trust much faster than they can move up it. Of course, if they do move down the scale, they have to work far, far harder to move back up it, again.
  • One way of showing confidence and trust is by giving referrals to the people that you would like to have refer to you. It’s one way that we can invoke the Law of Reciprocity. It may be that you qualify those referrals in the eyes of your contacts. i.e. Tell your contact that you don’t know the person you’re referring them to, that well, and that you aren’t personally familiar with their work so can’t endorse it. On those occasions where your contact may have to resort to Yellow Pages or Google, talking to someone that’s known, even just a little, is no bad thing. They should just be considered on an equal footing with those people from the directories but the great thing is that you have given something in your new relationship.
  • Always make sure that you do what you say you’re going to do, no matter how small that thing may be and no matter whether it’s a business or a personal undertaking. If you don’t do what you say you say you will do, it will affect the way that you are perceived.
  • In a similar vein, don’t promise to do something if you can’t do it well. Rather, refer someone that can do it well.  The fact that you’d be willing to do something badly wouldn’t reflect well on you.
  • Make sure that you have a high level of knowledge and skill in your field so that, whenever you have occasion to demonstrate that knowledge or skill, you can do so, effectively.
  • Give knowledge, skill, information and introductions whenever you can. Doing all of these things will help build your credibility, particularly, if you’ve gone out of your way to help and don’t expect anything in return. So, do go out of your way to help and don’t expect anything in return. If you do that, everything else takes care of itself.
  • In your business, always deliver your product or service to the highest standards. Always focus on looking after your clients and making them feel valued. Don’t give anyone any cause for complaint, no matter what lengths you need to go to. Why? Because people that are just getting to know you will ask their contacts about you – and you never know who those contacts may be. At the end of the day, if you want to get referrals, you need to be referable.

Of course, there are many other things that you can do. Just use your creativity and I’m sure that you’ll come up with things that I haven’t thought of. And if these things also happen to relate to your business in some way, that would be an added benefit.

Bear in mind that it does take time to gain credibility and, as everyone is different, some people will require more time than others. But you can affect the time taken by investing more of your own time in to doing more of those things that will build the relationship.

As you do more of these things, so you will move up to Step 4, Confidence and then to Step 5, Trust.

Never forget that you’re in control of the process involved in moving up this relationship ladder. You simply have to take action and engage in those activities that will build the relationship.

From steps 1 to 3 we built Visibility in our relationship. Having moved from step 3 to steps 4 & 5  we’ve now firmly established our Credibility.

Tune in to part 3 of the 7 Steps to a Profitable Relationship to find out about the last two steps that will bring us the Profitability that we’ve been working towards.

By Marcela