Taking the Online Offline- 7 Ways to Help People Know You’re Trustworthy
We’ve gone through three different stages when it comes to people’s interaction with others on the Internet.
Stage 1- Get people online.
Stage 2- Get people interacting online.
Stage 3- Get people interacting offline using online tools.
I love Stage 3. Do you meet people offline that you’ve connected with online. And nowhere is this power of connection seen more obviously than in the Sharing Economy, where we share goods, houses, cars, and food with absolute strangers. Trust is the cornerstone to this connection working out well.
So here’s 7 ways you can help people know you are trustworthy.
1. Be Trustworthy.
Stating the obvious. But you have no choice if you are looking to survive. If you’re not prepared to keep your word, you may as well go and close down all your accounts and have no presence online. Although, if you’ve been following the Friends Life Insurance story, you’ll realise that being silent will still cost you. This transparent world is not going to treat you kindly, and it will hurt far more when your customers disappear or work dries up because you didn’t do what you said.
2. Be present and permanent online.
This is more than having a Facebook account with walls, that those who you’ve let down can’t penetrate. This is about being visible, authentic and open to criticism. Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Website. Are you going anyway, or is your presence here to stay? If someone’s doing business with you, they want to know you’re sticking around. For many it’s simple. You’re not on Twitter, I don’t trust you.
3. Display your telephone number.
Some would strongly disagree with this, but this establishes a great level of trust. Increasingly as people are focusing more on lifelong interactions, and depth of connection, this is achieved far more easily when you talk and they know they can reach you. You’ve got nothing to hide. I learnt this from a conversation with Thomas Power where he argued that people who display their number don’t get inundated with calls. They’ll presume you’ll busy, and that it’s invasive. But it gives them a sense of access should they want it.
4. When posting up reviews or testimonials on your own site, link through to the social profiles of the reviewer.
Let’s state the obvious. People make up reviews, or farm to get Amazon Reviews. One Trip Advisor review is a hotel slamming their competitor down the road. In the world of trusting reviews, one of the best examples of a company that is taking this really seriously is Yelp with their Filtered Reviews. They use this to try and filter out spammy and untrustworthy reviews. When you’ve got testimonials on your own page, eliminate the doubt, by enabling people to link through to those that have reviewed you.
5. See yourself as a rounded individual.
You may be great at hosting people (AirBnB), or delivering high quality work (Odesk), but you’re poor at selling items online and forget to get your goods in the post (eBay). There are a few people trying this (AirBnB has offline verification with passports and online with LinkedIn and social handles- read more here) and TrustCloud. A trusted identity will become vitally important. This will pull in your scores, feeds and reviews from all different sites online and vital legal documents offline, to enable people to see and assess whether you’ve got the chops to fulfil what you say you will. An about.me for personal trust. The time has gone where you can live a compartmentalised life. People come to conclusions about you from what they see or read. Over time that may change, but that’s their starting point.
6. Be authentic.
People can spot a fake a mile off and yet they can be incredibly forgiving as well if they know you’re being authentic. Trust isn’t about perfection, and when you do make mistakes, dusting yourself down, holding your hands up and addressing the issue is the way to go. If you’re facing criticism, tackle it head on and humbly respond to it. If you are over committed don’t make promises you can’t keep; even if that means turning something exciting away. Keep delivering well on what you’re doing, and it will come back around again.
7. Be generous.
People are drawn to generous people. People can tell if someone’s self centred and caught up in their own existence. By being generous and putting others first, not only will you leave something of worth and value for someone else, but people will desire to help you, champion you and open up new opportunities for you.
How about you? What do you think are the ways that people can show themselves to be trustworthy? What tools or approaches do you take?