3 Can’t-Fail Steps to Building Trust

Image of StepsTrust is everything.

You don’t have to be in business for yourself to know that trust in your personal and professional relationships makes, well, life easier.

Trust satisfies the basic need to feel security in your relationships. In business, it allows you to relax knowing that you aren’t being taken for granted or, for the business owner, that your clients will sing your praises.

Sales come easier because you’re not hard-selling; trust supports your recommendations.

Heard all this before?

Think I’m going to simply theorize about how to be trustworthy here? Nah, let me take you on my own personal journey of building trust and its mutual advantages in a professional relationship.

The story starts with my mechanic.

Ed (my mechanic)

So, I have a great mechanic. He’s been the only mechanic I’ve used for the past three-and-a-half years. I started bringing my car to him when I became disenchanted with a former mechanic. I trust Ed so much to take good care of me that when my car broke down I had it towed to Ed.

There were two other garages between where my car broke down and Ed’s garage.

These days, he goes the extra mile for me. Sometimes he even moves the free line and performs minor maintenance for me free of charge.

He pushes me to the front of the line when I make my service call.

When the service is pricey, he offers to let me make installments.

I don’t ask or expect him to do any of this.

So how did we arrive here? Was it just that I’ve been going there so long that it just happened? Not quite.

Build Trust By…

1. Making connections early

I had just started a new job at the time I met Ed and it was a new chapter for me. It was a time of new friendships, a new network, and a new outlook on life. I had my 5-year plan in full effect and was eager to make valuable, long-standing professional relationships.

If you’re venturing online now to grow your business then start making friends early. You can’t bring that “if you build it they will come” mentality. Reach out to people through social media, comment on their blogs, show up on competitor’s websites or offer value in relevant forums.

The sooner you begin establishing solid peer relationships, the faster you’re promoted and the sooner you begin making worthwhile connections. Oh, and be open minded. I could have let Ed just be “the guy that fixes my car” but instead we have a rewarding relationship.

You never know in advance the good that may come from a new connection.

2. Not waiting until you need something

The time to make friends with a professional (or anyone) isn’t when you need to ask for something.

For me, the time my car needed an absurd amount of repair wasn’t the time to sweet-talk my mechanic on the phone. After all, he has bills to pay, tools to buy, and needs to put food on his plate.

Why should he do me any favors?

I’ve hung out with Ed at the garage on slow days. We’ve just shot the breeze about life and business. He knows I help people build websites and grow their businesses online. I know when business is heavy or slow for him. Ed knows I speak highly of him and his service to people I know.

We have a trusting relationship established.

Do you reach out to people (offline) and online bloggers or business owners only when you need something? Have you reached out just to say hello and answer a question? Do you share advice freely?

Have you wished someone well if they tweeted they felt sick or had a grumpy Facebook update?

Do it. People remember those types of gestures. Nurture your relationships during the off season so that when it’s game time you’ll be playing for the same team.

3. Showing gratitude

When the service bill comes from Ed I don’t grumble and make quips about pricey parts and labor (he doesn’t gouge me anyway). It’s part of the professional relationship: my car breaks, he fixes it, I hand him green paper.

I thank him. I actually say the words, “Ed, I appreciate you, man. Thanks a lot for helping me out.” I look him in the eye and I don’t shy away from shaking his hands (when they aren’t completely covered in oil).

Be timely in expressing your gratitude for people. And not just when they’ve done something for you. Online  you can be grateful to people by sharing their content. By commenting and expanding on their articles and ideas. You can thank them for sharing your content or stopping by your website.

I’ll pause to heed my own advice and thank Marlee Ward who writes about entrepreneurship and helps people (with focus on females) find their passion and purpose at Metamorphoself. She’s publishing great content over there so check her out. Marlee, I appreciate the mention of me in your recent article!

Also to Danny Iny at Firepole Marketing, thanks so much for including me in your Best of the Web round-up. I am honored by your mention. To my readers, the FPM team knows what they’re doing and leads by example. They can help you supercharge your marketing strategy.

Be thankful, my friends, and always be making deposits into the trust bank.

Go! Fight! Win!

Get out there today and:

  • Make a new friend by reaching out on a website, forum, via comments or on Facebook (start with me here)
  • Send out a thoughtful tweet to one particular person offering them encouragement or a reminder of how awesome they are
  • Remember to say, “thank you,” and mean it.

This is how to build trust, value other people, and be valuable in the people business. Are you building trust online? How do you do it and what else would you recommend?

Photo: tupwanders

38 Responses to 3 Can’t-Fail Steps to Building Trust
  1. Sarah Russell
    March 7, 2011 | 10:00 am

    Great post, Jon! Most people who work online have probably heard the whole “build trust with your visitors” thing a thousand times, but not many people actually offer concrete ways on how to do this.

    And I’ll agree with you – gratitude is huge. It’s so important to remember how lucky we are to do this kind of work and to thank the people who helps us out in one way or another.

    • Jon
      March 7, 2011 | 6:39 pm

      Thanks, Sarah. Concrete is the way to go. We’re all in this together so give thanks and credit when/where it’s due. Catch you later on the webinar!

  2. Adrienne
    March 7, 2011 | 12:15 pm

    Hey Jon,

    I LOVE your story of your mechanic. I have the same experience. I’ve been using the same guy for 15 years now. He gives me great service, washes my car before I pick it up, would take me to work and pick me up and would let me know if I could get my car repaired someplace else for less because of the cost he had to pay for parts. Who wouldn’t want someone who treats their customers like that? It’s a prospects dream!!!

    Being online is the same exact thing. Help your prospects learn and grow, go that extra mile because at the end of the day they will come back to you.

    I love to share the story I had on Facebook. I had a guy email me and ask if I would help give him some advice about affiliate marketing. I responded back and told him I would be happy to answer any question he had. It was late at night when I responded and told him to send me his question and it would be the first thing I responded to the following morning. I got a reply and he had already purchased my product without sending the question because he had emailed 10 people and I was the only one to respond to him. Since that time, I’ve been available for him to answer any questions he has. Now I have his testimonial. It’s all about showing the love and helping others. People will be able to tell if you are genuine or not!

    Thanks for sharing this. Great way to start my week.


    • Jon
      March 7, 2011 | 6:42 pm

      That’s great, Adrienne! What a great example of giving without any expectation and look at how quickly it boosted the trust factor for you. Way cool. As for your mechanic, well, you have me beat. Ed doesn’t wash my car (yet) haha Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Marlee
    March 7, 2011 | 12:15 pm

    Hey Jon!
    Thank you for the thank you! LOL.

    It’s funny because I just highlighted much of what you said here about gratitude in my most recent Kick-A$$ Tip. Gratitude invokes the principle of reciprocity, which we are proof of in our own exchange. Suffice it to say sincere gratitude goes a long way.

    And, there’s no better way build a relationship with a person by showing them that they are appreciated.

    Great advice! :)

    • Jon
      March 7, 2011 | 6:45 pm

      Right on, Marlee. People like feeling appreciated, needed, and important. Awesome point about reciprocity – that could make a good article. But you’re right, when you are on the receiving end of a lot of goodwill you just can’t help but want to give back (reciprocate).

  4. Jk Allen
    March 7, 2011 | 1:23 pm

    Hi Jon – I think this article has so much relevance, especially in the online world. It’s so easy to just sit back and not reach out. I quickly came to learn that bringing my offline skillset in networking, has paid me great rewards online. Not only the opportunities (which I’ve had some very great), but newly found relationships that I know will last far beyond the present.

    When I first started my blog, I kind of kept myself from venturing out…I was new and wasn’t really familiar with the social aspect of the internet. While my blog barely grabbed any growth over my first month, I figured that I better get to doing what I do. I started reaching out, forming relationships with people. The funny thing is that I never expected to forge full-fledge friendships, but I have…I was just hoping to connect with people here and there.

    One thing that I always do, and I do this out of complete sincerity (it’s not a strategic maneuver) is offer myself to be of assistance. Some take me up on it and realize that I just love to be a helping hand…no strings attached.

    I have had to call upon some of my online friends for assistance here and there, and to my surprise (every time) the response is great.

    Thanks for being a promoter of the positive Jon. I appreciate your mission in brining value to the table.

    • Jon
      March 7, 2011 | 6:49 pm

      Jk, wow so many points here. The great thing about your journey early on is you caught on to needing to reach out. Some of us get started and grind away without connecting and we miss out on the encouragement and feedback. It keeps you going.

      It’s interesting how most of us can read about other big names making great relationships and forming partnerships and we start out thinking it’s impossible. Soon enough, we make genuine friends online. I’m happy you’ve experienced this as well. Thank you for your appreciation, Jk :)

  5. jonathanfigaro
    March 7, 2011 | 3:01 pm

    Its always better to be grateful than arrogant. Everything can be taken away, learn to appreciate. Great Post. Cheers to gratitude.

    • Jon
      March 7, 2011 | 6:50 pm

      Well said, Jonathan. That made me think of how important it is to value even the small things in life.

  6. Debbie@happymaker
    March 7, 2011 | 5:52 pm

    Thank you for reminding me to always say thank you. I have a guy that fixes my PC, like you have for your car. Anytime I really mess it up he can bring it back to life. Got to love trust like that. It is wonderful. I like to tell others, “Be careful what bridges you burn, you may need to get accross it sometime.”

    Thanks again and have a great day,

    • Jon
      March 7, 2011 | 6:52 pm

      Hi Debbie and welcome! You know you have it good when it feels more like a favor than a transaction, right? Technology can be our best friend or worst enemy; I’m glad you found a trustworthy mediator!

  7. Nikoya
    March 7, 2011 | 9:59 pm

    You couldn’t have used a better story to illustrate your vivid and true point! Blogging is building a community – we are in the business of building a like minded community. Therefore networking and be-befriending others (in a genuine way) is thoroughly important.

    Great advice as well, when you said that it is important to make your friendships and connections early in the game. This makes sense, now that you put it the way you did.


  8. Nikoya
    March 7, 2011 | 10:01 pm

    Oh and thanks for linking to the chick at “Metamorphoself” – I really like her website too.

    • Jon
      March 8, 2011 | 9:06 pm

      Marlee is a smart gal. I’m glad you liked the article, Nikoya. Best wishes with your community-building and thanks for visiting ours here. I hope to see you around more.

  9. Danny @ Firepole Marketing
    March 7, 2011 | 10:47 pm

    Hi Jon, thanks for the mention, and for the words of encouragement. The story with your mechanic is very well told, and illustrated the concepts beautifully. I also really like the way in which (with your mechanic, with your readers, and with us) you practice what you preach – it’s a privilege to get to know you. I really enjoyed your post, and shared it on Facebook.

    • Jon
      March 8, 2011 | 9:09 pm

      Hi Danny! You’re welcome. I greatly appreciate the FB share and thank you for your kind words. It’s important to walk the talk, right? ;)

  10. Hector Avellaneda
    March 7, 2011 | 11:48 pm

    Hey Jon! What’s up man!?

    Hey I love this article man. You touched on some very key points. You’ve read my article on sleazy sales and if you remember I talk about people’s BS meeter being at an all time high.

    The reason for that is because we have so many people online that are online not to build trust or relationships, they’re online to sale sale sale!

    They blast this all over the web and it gives the online industry a bad rap.

    Trust from your online readers/customers/ etc is something that I think is definitely harder and harder to obtain but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be if everything you do has clear and positive intentions.

    The perfect example of this is Pat Flynn and I think most people who know Pat would agree. He is all about delivering the goods and I know that when he recommends I take a look at a product or service he has my best interest in mind.

    • Jon
      March 8, 2011 | 9:14 pm

      Hector – yes, I liked your article. There are great rewards when you open two-way dialogue and trust; unfortunately, there are still plenty of selfish, fly-by-night marketers out there. I completely agree with you about Pat Flynn; I keep an eye on SPI (I rhymed).

  11. Stuart
    March 8, 2011 | 4:58 am

    Jon! First time here mate, and I apologise for taking so long. Got my act together now lol!

    Great read about trust; I like the story of your mechanic, that’s a bona-fide example of getting to know each other, trusting each other, and helping each other out. Be nice to people and they’ll soon be nice to you.

    Take care buddy :-)

    • Jon
      March 8, 2011 | 9:19 pm

      Hi Stu! It’s great to have you here, man. No worries on the wait, I’ve been enjoying your site all the while.

      Yes, it’s amazing what a li’l bit of nice can do. You know, it’s great that we help each other out but I’m not sure I mentioned the other benefit. I met a way cool guy in the process who has shared some great laughs and life stories with me. These things would not have happened if I didn’t take an interest in building the relationship.

      Thank you for your comment, Stu – see you again soon.

  12. Bryan Thompson
    March 8, 2011 | 8:08 am

    Hi Jon, I love these steps to trust building, and especially love Steps 2 and 3. Build relationships to genuinely get to know others. It’s not about what we can get out of everything, but the more trust we invest in others, the more they will trust us. And beautiful things can come out of that. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jon
      March 8, 2011 | 9:23 pm

      Awesome, Bryan. Very true – beautiful things happen when trust is involved. You stated it well, “It’s not about what we can get out of everything..” We should give without expecting to receive. Always a treat to see you here, man. Thanks.

  13. Eddie Gear - The Guy With An Attitude
    March 9, 2011 | 2:22 am

    Rocking advise Jon. Very true. These are some of the tips that I was thought when I attended a Seminar on Networking.

    • Jon
      March 9, 2011 | 9:00 pm

      I’m glad to hear your seminar presenters back me up on this. That’s fantastic and I appreciate you sharing, Eddie.

  14. farouk
    March 9, 2011 | 4:04 am

    can’t agree more
    trust is the key Jon
    thank you for the post :)

    • Jon
      March 9, 2011 | 8:59 pm

      Glad to see it resonated with you, farouk. Trust is certainly key; thank you for your input.

  15. Christian
    March 9, 2011 | 4:45 am

    I love your thoughts on sharing gratitude. It’s really interesting how much our blogging connections correlate to family life.

    I trust my Father and Mother because they love me. Like your mechanic, they’ve given me everything – and then some. They’ve given me life. They go the extra mile for me, they love, they provide, etc…BECAUSE of that connection and love I feel they have for me – I trust them. I trust their advise. I love them back.

    Heck, if my Mom or Dad wrote a blog – I’d instantly be their most religious follower.

    Learning how to build that same “parental/child” trust between readers is the tricky part. I certainly believe it’s answered by your call to action though: SHOW your Gratitude. Thank you for getting me thinking. It sure helped.

    • Jon
      March 9, 2011 | 8:58 pm

      Christian – This was nice: “Heck, if my Mom or Dad wrote a blog – I’d instantly be their most religious follower.” I’m with you there, I’d follow my folks as well. You made a great point about feeling the love and appreciation they have for you and how it helped instill trust. Showing beats telling I say!

      Thank you for your time and comment. Come back any time.

      • Christian
        March 19, 2011 | 5:18 am

        No problem Jon. Grateful to be here on your blog. Lots of great content for everyone to feast on.

  16. Mandy Allen
    March 9, 2011 | 5:23 am

    Hi Jon, you very kindly visited my site, mandyallen.com, and left a comment so thought I’d pop over and see what you’re up to!

    Great post. I loved the garage story and it epitomises the value of trust in all relationships.

    Point 2 is so important. I guess one way I build trust is to give without expecting to receive anything in return. We’d all be better off if more people had the foresight to recognise the value of giving freely.

    And of course point 3, gratitude. Yes, let people know how very much you appreciate them. So important.

    Really lovely post, thank you, I’ll be back!

    Enjoy the journey.


    • Jon
      March 9, 2011 | 9:03 pm

      So happy to have you here, Mandy. Thank you for chiming in and I’ll be sure to check in with you again at your site. It really is amazing how great it feels to be appreciated and when you can pay the gift forward, do it! I agree, the world would be a better place if people realized the value of giving. See you soon…

  17. Jason from Skyward
    March 10, 2011 | 12:31 am


    I LOVE real life examples man! I find there always like a breath of fresh air…and you nailed it with your inclusion of Ed.

    That is a great example of how trust works in relationships….online or offline. And I love how you talked about the need to nurture a relationship before just asking for something. Growing relationships and growing plants are really the same…need constant nourishment and some TLC.

    Great post buddy, first time here and will be a regular from now on!

    • Jon
      March 10, 2011 | 7:22 am


      That means a lot, thank you and welcome. Constant nourishment and some TLC – absolutely! We all benefit by making our connections less “transaction based” and more about genuine care and interaction. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I’ll see you around.

  18. Sergio Felix
    March 10, 2011 | 8:53 pm


    I wish Ed was my mechanic. Mine keeps screwing my SUV around and my wallet lol but I guess I have a love/hate relationship with *that mechanic guy*.

    On the other hand I can relate 100% with this and to me it’s the best piece of advice in the entire post: “You never know in advance the good that may come from a new connection.”

    I’ve been offered help in really bad situations from the least expected persons and viceversa as well, so I guess we can sum this as be cool, play it cool and actually care about others. (Which I think was the basic concept of all this “marketing thing” from the beginning right? Helping people!)

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog (I’m having second thoughts on leave it or starting from scratch again) and I really appreciate this post in particular Jon.

    I really hope I can learn more from you and if we can make business in the future that’d be great!

    Have an awesome day ;-)

    PS. Maybe we should get better cars? lol j/k

    • Jon
      March 10, 2011 | 11:22 pm

      Ha! They are all money pits, Sergio. Welcome and thank you for your comment. Hm, it sounds like you’re in a tricky situation with your site. If you want ideas or feedback let me know. I’m sure we’ve all questioned ourselves at one point or another. Please stop by any time.

  19. [...] you’ve been a reader for a bit, then you may remember that I go to the same mechanic, Ed, every [...]

  20. [...] helped us earn customer trust enough for them to refer their closest friends and families into our care. How great is [...]

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