Trust me.

Hmm… well that didn’t work. Asking for trust doesn’t usually produce the desired results. So how do you gain it? You know the answer – over time and by depth of experience and relationship. At least when you’re on your own.

Trust is also transferable. You see it on balance sheets as goodwill, exactly because it is transferable. Trust is what makes referrals work. If you trust me, and I recommend Klaus or Allyson, they gain the benefit of the trust you have in me – because you still hold me responsible for their behaviour and performance.

That transferability of trust makes networking possible. It isn’t about who you know, but who you trust. And that is a distinction that a lot of serial networkers don’t get. I fell into that trap myself. I attended BNI Corporate Exchange as a guest for six months. I got to know a lot of people – a lot of the right people. I got a small amount of opportunistic business from members who had an immediate need, as they gained familiarity. I got none from other guests. They gave all their business to the members – the people they see being trusted. That was when I recognized that there’s truth to the maxim that membership has its privileges.

The main privilege is of trust.

A healthy business networking group trades referrals from many sources – the members themselves (we call this an internal referral), their clients (external), guests, members of other network chapters (there are two other BNI corporate chapters which have close ties to Corporate Exchange), and alumni (former members). As a guest, you really only have access to the first of these, and happenstance for all the others, if you are in the right place at the right time.

Even as a member, you have to work your way up the trust cycle. All the statistics show it takes 3-6 months of association to begin to see benefits, and the trust cycle doesn’t really complete until well into the second year. In my role of chapter mentor, I’m frequently asked how to accelerate that trust cycle – because most of us aren’t that patient.

There’s good news. There are two major ways to gain trust more expediently. They both require considerable effort. The first is to meet regularly with the members of your networking group. The better you get to know each other – and your respective businesses, the easier trust flows. And repeat this as frequently as you can. I personally have about six meetings a month, just familiarizing myself with other members outside regular networking.

The second way to scoot ahead on the trust cycle, is to make visible contributions. Raise your profile within your networking group by being an integral part of it’s workings. John prints all our materials, invitations, folders etc, and everyone sees how he’s contributed. We also see the quality of his efforts. This short circuits the need for us to have to have tried out his services personally – because we’ve collectively seen his ability. He’s earned our trust. And that ultimately is what you need to do – earn the trust. The benefit is that you earn the trust of one – and you reap the benefits of trust earned by all.

So trust me – Simon does. And Marjorie does. And Fred does….

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