Trust“But how do I get them to trust me if they don’t know me?” my client asked.

“Exactly,” I replied. “They have to get to know you in order to trust you. Either that, or they need to be referred to you by someone they know and trust already.”

Client: “So, you’re telling me that making cold calls and running ads are a waste of time and money?”

Me: “Yes. Unless you use those tactics to open the door to your prospective clients getting to know and trust you. If you expect to move from a call or an ad to a quick sale, you’ll be disappointed.”

Have you heard advice like this before? It can be tough to apply in practice. First, there’s all those folks trying to convince you that Facebook ads are the best way to get clients. Then there’s the sales experts who want you to believe all you need is training in how to sell better. And what about your own resistance to sales and marketing? It certainly sounds less challenging to run some ads than to spend time interacting with potential clients to build their trust.

However, this is exactly what successful self-employed professionals do. They put their effort into encouraging clients and possible referral sources to know and trust them better before ever expecting to close a sale. Here’s how they do it:

1. Speak and teach. Public speaking and teaching classes are ideal ways for people to get to know you and your work. They allow you to demonstrate your expertise and meet prospective clients, often in the context of answering their personal questions. Speaking and teaching can take place via webinar, teleclass, or recorded audio/video, as well as in person.

2. Write and publish. Writing a blog, authoring articles, or guest blogging all give you the opportunity to let your target market know about your work, and learn how you approach it. Writing also provides you with quality content that can be widely shared via social media.

3. Offer samples. When I advised my client above that cold approaches and ads could sometimes be door-openers, it was offering samples that I had in mind. A sample of your work could be a free webinar, consultation, or ebook. Offering samples like this in an ad or cold call can be effective, much more so than expecting calls and ads to produce clients without a trust-building element.

4. Build referrals. Clients who come to you by referral are strongly influenced by the trust the referral source has in you. They often contact you ready to hire you immediately. This can make it worth your while to engage in trust-building activities aimed at people who have regular contact with those likely to need your services.

5. Network in person or online.
Meeting people at events or having coffee to get better acquainted are in-person marketing tactics that remain valuable in the Internet age. Networking online via discussion groups and social media can be powerful for trust-building, so long as you remember that trust is your primary goal rather than promotion.

Whichever approaches you choose, it’s important to be consistent with them. That’s also part of building trust. If you start a blog, keep posting to it. When you join a networking group, show up at every meeting. Consistency in marketing demonstrates your reliability; it shows prospective clients they can count on you.

This may sound like a lot of work. But if you make the aim of all your marketing to build trust in potential clients, you’ll find that closing sales can become almost effortless. That’s what makes trust-building worth your investment.

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