Better late than going in too early and f**king it up for ever

In networking we often talk about that ‘Meet — Like — Know — Trust’, the process which comes into play after meeting someone for the first time, until the moment when they trust you enough to do business with you, or refer business to you.

When I started my career, in a shoe shop in Oxford, we had to learn to build that trust in about twenty minutes, because that was how long we had the customer for. But then, all I wanted them to spend was an extra £1.99 for a tin of polish for the shoes they were buying.

Some relationships simply take some time to nurture and develop before you get to that magical ‘trust’ phase. Trying to speed them up won’t help, in fact it will likely push the person away if you’re trying to sell to them before they trust you.

There is loads you can do to accelerate the process — being in touch with people more often, turning up as the same person in real life and online, publishing really good content and doing that more than anyone else, doing a brilliant job for the people you work with so they are happy to recommend you — just for examples.

But whether the other guy trusts you is their decision and not yours. Just as it is the other way round.

The photo above was taken at (so far) my biggest ever speaking gig, in front of 2400 partners with The Utility Warehouse Discount Club. That came as a result of a three year relationship with one of their top guys, Wes Linden, during which time we just got to know each other. In fact it was Wes who I first heard use the phrase “making friends for the sake of making friends”. Neither of us had an agenda. We had connected on Twitter at first, moved that relationship to Facebook when everyone else did the same, and then met up in real life. Four hours into our first half hour meeting, Wes asked whether I would be available to speak at one of his events, which is where the photo above came from.

I know, beyond doubt, that had I tried to push Wes earlier, he wouldn’t have trusted me quite enough to put me on that stage, on a very important day for him and his business.

Had I pushed, I would have pushed him away.

You see, the scale of the work the person has to refer to you also impacts how quickly they trust you. I have loads of examples such as the Wes example above. I may have done some business with people, but putting me on the big stage, at their annual conference or in front of their whole team, takes a little bit longer. Because they needed to absolutely trust that I would handle an opportunity which we only got one shot at.

Sometimes people use the phrase “better late than never” but, as impatient as I am, I would prefer “better late than going in too early and f**king it up for ever”.

Keynote Speaker. Author of Business Networking for Dummies, Instant Networking & Win The Room. Trainer. Mentor.

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