Trust & Credibility in Your Personal Network, Part 1

What does your November calendar look like?

If you are in a client-facing role, this month and next could be beyond busy for you.

And, you might also be hoping to take a few days off? Maybe travel to see friends and family? Maybe you are celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving next week? Or planning a "friendsgiving"?

No matter if you are hosting or attending a gathering or two this November, I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of relationships. Ones we already have. Ones we should make. Ones we might not even know we need.

It's vital to establish trust and credibility with those who already know you personally, especially early in your career, and especially if you want their guidance, advice, and maybe even assistance with professional introductions in the near future.

The November and December holidays are the perfect time to focus on relationships.

A lot of sales professionals leave this to chance. I'd advise having a plan. And intentionality. And genuine intent on prioritizing relationships these last two months of the year.

Building trusted relationships is paramount.

I wrote a blog in 2019 about genuineness. It is re-posted below because it is so timely with all of the interactions we might have coming up with friends and family.

The post is about client relationships, but trust me, it's relevant for personal relationships too! And, there's an incredible joy to experience when clients become friends and friends become clients.

3 Ways to be Truly Genuine with Your Clients

(updated 11/16/22; originally posted 9/9/19)

Genuineness is real and tangible. Most of us can name sales professionals we know personally who are authentic and true to themselves. Their character, concern and trustworthiness is evident in everything they say and do.

On the flip side, we also have exposure to business associates who come across as fake and disingenuous. Maybe they are trying too hard, don't know how to build trust and credibility, or have had little or no development with their interpersonal skills.

Read on for three ways be be truly genuine with your clients and all of your business relationships.

1. Connect on a Personal Level

My husband, Brian Miller, has been in business development for decades and launched his own consulting firm a year ago. Can you imagine our dinner table conversations? Even though we are in different industries, a lot of people get a kick out of listening to us when we get going about business strategy, customer relationships, and sales as a profession.

Brian's interest and concern for his customers is evident in any conversation you have with him. I asked him recently to weigh in, specifically on genuineness, and he shared a few thoughts.

  • Getting to know your customers must be about connecting on a personal level

  • Figure out how to be more vulnerable to find deeper, more meaningful ways to connect

  • Focus on client retention and long-term relationships, not the immediate project or transaction

  • Bring your own life and your own stories into the conversation

  • Be relatable

  • Learn how to tell a story, at the right time, to the right audience (discernment is paramount here!)

2. Listen, Really Listen

This means you cannot be talking. Period.

Listening is incredibly difficult for me. I am a talker - when I'm running meetings, leading calls, and catching up with friends. I have to work really hard at listening. And, being intentional and focused - instead of off in my own head formulating my next thought.

Attentiveness takes patience and focus.

We as humans seem to love to fill the silence. And those of us who have chosen sales as a profession get a bad reputation for talking too much.

It might take self-reflection, time with a mentor, or candid discussions with peers or leaders to figure out if you are a good listener. And, even if you are already good, is there room for improvement? Consider asking current clients how they'd rate your ability to listen - this might be eye-opening.

3. Be Your Authentic Self

It's tempting to try and copy someone else's style, but figuring out who you are and who you want to be will pay off so much more for you in the long run. If telling jokes isn't your thing, don't tell jokes. If talking sports isn't your thing, don't pretend that it is. You need to learn what works for you. It takes years, sometimes decades, for some of us to let our real selves shine through.

Having patience and taking the time to build relationships is critical to learning what being genuine means to you.

Your hard work might just very well lead to long-term professional relationships with your clients, personal friendships formed from your business interactions, and satisfaction knowing it was because you were willing to be vulnerable and genuine at work.