The Secret To Gaining Trust And Influencing Decision Makers

Trust is the new currency in business and communication.  It’s the foundation for all that you do, and in the information-filled, internet-driven world we live in, it’s more important than ever.

In a world inundated by noise, stale messaging and logos, and company-focused content, what sets a brand apart is its ability to establish a human connection and build trust with its audience.

Unfortunately, as important as trust is to a brand’s success, we encounter barriers to that trust every day – especially as relationships are formed.  Let me give you an example.

I have a very vivid memory of one of the first networking events I attended as the CEO of Influence & Co.  It was simultaneously exciting and terrifying.  I was surrounded by industry leaders, but I couldn’t seem to really connect with any of them.  Everyone wanted face time with the key players right away, and I felt like that sad kid in middle school gym class picked last for dodgeball.

After the event, I spent a lot of time studying exactly what these key players were doing that I wasn’t, trying to determine how I could put processes in place to overcome those trust barriers.  I needed to set myself up for success, so I could build the kinds of relationships I required for my company to stand a chance.  What did I need to do differently to establish trust and attract more opportunity to my company?

The only way to overcome trust barriers is to identify trust touchpoints and act on them in the right way at the right times: Doing so consistently builds trust, earns you top-of-mind space, and can help you influence decision makers.  While that’s easier said than done, it’s a technique I’ve found success with.

The following outlines how it works.

Identifying Trust Touchpoints

In any relationship you have with another person – whether that’s a consumer, a member of your audience, a key decision maker at a company you’d like to work with, or some combination of these – there will be opportunities for you to build trust and start earning top-of-mind real estate.

Think of those opportunities as targets on the timeline of your relationship.  You want to be able to identify those targets and hit them at just the right time; over time (because it takes a while to truly earn trust), that person will begin to see you as a valuable resource that she can trust.  Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to hit those targets because there are a lot of ways you can build trust.

It all starts with authenticity.  If your only motivation is to make money by selling your product or service, you’re probably not going to find much success with this strategy.  Earning trust and influence is a long-term process that depends upon your ability to build truly meaningful, valuable relationships, and you can only do that if you’re being yourself.

From there, one of the easiest and most natural ways to gain trust is by helping others. We frequently lend help to people – employees, team members, spouses, friends, and family – when we have something of value to offer them.  The same idea applies to your approach to earning trust and influence.

Find out what your contact values, and ask how you can help.  Sometimes it’s as simple as offering honest, transparent feedback when she asks for your opinion on something.  You could make an introduction that would help her grow her network.  You can also put these ideas of authenticity and helpfulness together, sharing your knowledge by educating others.

Executed correctly, these tactics can go a long way toward building trust on an individual level.  But it can still be challenging to always hit these targets on the timelines of your relationships at the right moment, and it’s more challenging still to amplify this timing to gain influence with a larger group of decision makers.

That’s where content comes in.

Building Trust And Earning Influence Through Content

All these characteristics that build trust – things like authenticity, helpfulness, transparency, and likability – can and should be incorporated in content that you can use to connect and stay top of mind with a bigger audience.

In our information-filled, internet-driven world, we have access to an overwhelming amount of content.  Whether your audience members have questions they want to answer, topics they’re curious about, pain points they’re looking to solve, or products or services they’re researching, they can find information on any of these areas independently by searching for content online.

Take advantage of this shift in communication: create and distribute authentic, helpful, and educational content that your audience finds valuable. Creating content like this and distributing it in the outlets that your audience members read can help you hit those trust touchpoints on a much larger scale without losing the human elements that make those touchpoints so valuable on the individual level.

And you can always scale your content creation and distribution efforts so you can constantly create and share ideas with the right people at the right time.  Hitting your trust touchpoints that way helps you maintain top-of-mind status with your audience and strengthens your influence.

Between embracing authenticity and adding value to your relationships, it turns out that the secret to gaining trust and influence with decision makers is no real secret at all.