This brings us neatly to the issue of building trust and developing a reputation.
I have always thought that reputation is made up of 3 components
- Knowing your stuff
- Being able to deliver
- Being likeable or at least easy to work with.
I asked my customers what they liked about me and items one and 2 were pretty much as per the list. In my case number 3 was “you say bollocks a lot”. This is called personal branding.
One school of thought is that when you are networking you should be looking for advocates rather than sales. Our current research projects have been looking into this and we are currently testing a model that looks like this.
As you can see it grows by stages. In most cases you will probably have to meet up – although sometimes you don’t – I was project manager for a series of policy documents that we wrote for the Welsh Government last year. I never actually met one of the team –although other team players knew them.
In most cases you trust people that you’ve got to know and with whom you’ve worked on something that’s not a life or death project. As time goes on you work with them on progressively larger contracts until eventually you feel comfortable to put them into bat on your behalf.
Personally I am in several groupings of people that have got to know each other over the years. Some from my previous network, some that have come about through my membership of online networking groups.
In our current research project, we asked some open ended questions about how trust develops – for the most part it’s a combination of early opinion and likeability reinforced with recommendation, seeing them at work or experience of their deliverables. Liking and experience seemed to be the most influential components at least in the preliminary results.
I’ll tell you what they said in the next post