Thoughts on building trust with your clients
Can I tell you a secret? Trust is the paramount ingredient for building successful relationships. Well, that may not be much of a secret, but I think everyone can agree building trust is more art than science, hence its extreme importance in everything we do.
As a consultant, strong, thriving client relationships not only make my day-to-day more enjoyable, they are essential for the well being of my team and my children’s college education. With so much on the line, let me share three key principles to fostering positive, healthy client relationships rooted in trust.
Empathy is essential. Without it, how can you ever be expected to establish a genuine connection with your client? Until you can not only see, but also feel the issues and problems they are wrestling with you’ll never be able to come up with the creative solutions to the things keeping them up at night. To get started, begin thinking about how you would feel in their place? How would you want to be treated? Then start putting the answers to those questions into practice by opening a dialogue with your client. You’ll not only be able to do better work, you’ll enjoy it more as well.
If you cannot deliver on your promises, you might as well stay in bed. This is probably the most obvious of all keys to building trust. And that’s why it deserves mentioning—it is that important. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to only say yes to the things that you can actually do and then create a work back schedule to get them done. Expectations are everything and you need to make everyone, especially the client, a stakeholder in the success of the project.
Each time you deliver an excellent deliverable, you’re laying another brick in the foundation of trust. If you can consistently deliver, day after day, month after month, you’ll build a relationship and a reputation that will begin to precede you wherever you go. A rule of thumb I adhere to is being able to make my clients look good in front of their peers and customers. Respect this truth and you’ll build a relationship that can go the distance.
I hope these three pillars of trust have spurred you on in your efforts to build healthy, productive client relationships. Trust is a journey, not a destination. No effort to build it is ever a waste. Be intentional and people will notice.