How do we build trust with prospects during a global pandemic?
This question has been plaguing me (pun intended) over this pandemic. I’ve found myself reflecting on how to build trust. In particular, building trust in relationships that began over the course of COVID. In a recent post, I noted the ways once available to us to build relationships and develop emotional connections are no longer. With this new normal, it’s tough to build trust and gain new clients. And there’s a myriad of reasons why. But, one of the most common issues cited with the covid pivot is not being able to read body language in virtual situations. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the learning curve of both reading your client and making sure you create the environment to connect (good posture, eye contact, no distractions, etc..).
So we must look to new ways to build trust. And to help me with that, I posed a question to a few trusted colleagues.
“How are you building trust with new and existing clients/colleagues during COVID?”
Through some insightful email exchanges and virtual conversations, I’ve narrowed it down. Here are five ways people are building trust with new clients and colleagues in our new normal. I’m also sharing five ways these same colleagues are doing it with existing clients.
Building Trust in New Client Relationships
1. Trust through network:
When it comes to gaining new projects and clients during a pandemic, one of the main ways of building trust is through your network. If you didn’t have a strong network pre-pandemic, building one from scratch is heavy lifting. However, if you’ve nurtured your network over the years, the power of a referral has never been so strong. When someone from your network recommends you, that is a powerful indication of trust. It can go a long way in helping to overcome the lack of a physical meeting. As Mark Jordan, a fellow marketer and brand builder says: “When I look back over any new business I’ve gained over Covid, much of it has been a transfer of trust through my network.”
What are you doing to nurture your network during Covid?
2. Trust through personal brand:
With the social unrest and political division we’ve all felt in 2020, the notion of your personal brand has never been more important.
This is another way to build virtual trust. What are you posting on your social media? What values are you displaying during your zoom and google hangouts calls? How are you presenting yourself to build trust and credibility in what you do? As a strategic communicator, I’m especially interested in the last item. I recently became aware of Mmmmm, a fun way to bring more engagement to online meetings.
Heather Bordo, a change and transformation coach, has also been working on building trust through her personal brand. She has found that “being more values-based in what I post on social media is opening the door to connecting in a more meaningful way.”
What are you doing to build your personal brand during Covid?
3. Trust through previous experience:
For those who have been able to gain net new (i.e. cold) clients over the pandemic, it came down to a different kind of trust. Trust through previous, relevant experience. Mark Jordan was able to work with a new client because they saw his background and experience with a similar organization. And through that, felt enough trust and confidence to reach out and learn more. As Mark said, “Part of my strategy is to share learnings and experiences from the great brands I work with so that the work speaks for itself.”
How are you capturing and sharing the great work you’ve done for your clients?
4. Trust through creative first connections:
Even though we are living in a time when meeting for an initial coffee is not quite as easy, many colleagues responded that building trust through an initial (socially distanced) meeting is still important. Aileen Crowne, an executive and leadership coach, has found that her “new clients have consistently wanted to meet in person (walk or sit on a bench) for the first and/or second meeting.”
What creative ways can you think of to “meet” clients and colleagues for the first time?
5. Trust through not having an agenda:
This might sound counter intuitive – especially for an ‘A type’ personality like me – but when first establishing relationships, there is benefit in having an initial exploratory conversation. As Tarun Tripathi, a culture and brand expert, says: “I think in the beginning you should meet because you WANT to meet, not to get some outcome. During the meeting, listen well and then after the meeting, send some useful links.” This shows you were engaged and interested to learn more. As we say at Andrew Perry, sometimes a fresh set of eyes is exactly what the person needs, and who knows where it could lead?
What discovery calls could you schedule over the next month?