Forget About Marketing and Focus on Building Trust


“Are you open to helping me out?” he asked me in an email.

It was from a man with 15 years of experience as a business owner who moved to the Netherlands a couple of years ago.

He wanted to know my opinion on the best and fastest way to build trust with small business owners here.

He went on to say that he had tried several things that had not worked. The feedback he got was that no one knows him so they don’t trust him.

I was also new to this country more than 15 years ago and I know what it’s like to experience a new country and culture.

It’s not easy to start a business in a place where you’re familiar let alone in a new country with a different language and culture.

I was happy to share some ideas with him. I recommended that he attend in-person events (the ones that his idea clients attend) and get to know people one by one in-person. It takes time and it works.

I also suggested that he ask the businesses that he helped for free (something smart he had already done to try to establish himself) to give him a referral to another business.

And I gave him a few more specific tips related to his website and social media profiles. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference.

Remember, people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Find out what your know, like, trust factor is by taking this assessment

When people trust you they will:

  1. Hire you
  2. Will tell other people about you (give you referrals)
  3. Want to partner with you

So how do you build trust? How do go from being unknown to people saying they want to hire you?

“Trust is built with consistency.” Lincoln Chafee

Brene Brown is an expert on trust, among other topics, and she has created a powerful acronym for building trust: BRAVING.

Watch her Super Soul Session talk on The Anatomy of Trust where she talks about how trust is built in very small moments. You can download her beautiful pdf of the BRAVING concept here.

I’ve applied her BRAVING acronym to building trust in business.


B – Boundaries

To build trust it’s important to let your clients know how you work and what your boundaries are. Do you work nights? Weekends? Do you stay within the parameters of your agreements?

You’re also going to need to be able to say no to things that are not a fit for you and your business. Find out what to say no to in this post

You also need to have boundaries about not giving away too much for free. More on that here

R – Reliability

When you deliver what you promise, you build trust. Even for small things. So be on time for your calls and appointments. If you promised to send an email by a certain date, do it.

Let clients know when you’ll be out of the office and how quickly you’ll reply to their messages. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your email, read this.

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein

A – Accountability

When you make a mistake (yes, when – not if because it happens to all of us) apologize and do whatever it takes to make it right.

Be willing to have an uncomfortable discussion and talk about what went wrong and how you can fix it going forward.

Take responsibility for the situation, ask questions, and really listen to what the person says and how she feels.

V- Vault

This one is monumental. If you promise people (clients, partners, people in your network) that you will keep information they share with you confidential (in the vault), then do it.

Building trust also includes not listening to others (stopping them) if they try to tell you confidential information about someone else.

Keep it in the vault, people.

I – Integrity

Decide what is important to you as a business owner, your values, and follow them. Take a stand for what you believe in and make decisions according to that. Do it even if that means turning down business.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Warren Buffett

N – Nonjudgement

You will build trust with your clients by discussing their needs and expectations with them. And do this without judging each other.

Don’t take things personally and listen with an open mind. Here are some thoughts on how to do this

G – Generosity

When in doubt, assume the best in others.

If a client, partner, or someone in your network does something you don’t understand, until you know what happened, choose to believe it was well meant. Believe that there is a logical explanation.

Once you find out what the motivation was, you can confirm your generous first thought or come to a new conclusion based on the facts.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway

I hope you’re feeling inspired to take action that will build trust with people in your community.

© Stephanie Ward

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Stephanie Ward is the Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs who want to create meaningful and prosperous businesses.  Grab your FREE copy of the special report ’7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time’ plus business building tips, at:

How do you build trust with people? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below. I respond to every single comment.


Stephanie Ward

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