“Don’t talk to strangers” – that sentence is probably taught all over the world by parents to their children. Ironically on Twitter and other similar social media platforms, we do exactly the opposite. Personally, I know less than 1% of the people I follow and people who follow me on Twitter – they are all strangers, yet I trust them, and they trust me!
How can they trust me? Before I get to that, let’s talk about Personal Branding and the role of trust. When I first set out to start my blog, my sole purpose was to establish a level of trust. I wasn’t trying to buy someone’s attention, nor beg for it, not bug for it – I was simply trying to earn it! I wanted to reflect my passion about people and my love of marketing – to me they go hand in hand!
Everyone knows that trust is earned and it takes time to build a certain level of trust. Here’s what I learned about trust through my short blogging experience:
Give, and then some
In each and every post, I try to share with my reader thoughts, cases, research about marketing and all its magic be it from my experience or from my readings. Social Media haters accuse me of wasting my time and energy on simply giving people such valuable information for free. So I ask them, how else can I expect readers to trust me – so I send out an infomercial about my marketing consultancy business and expect people to come running through the door? Are people that dumb? Am I the only marketing consultant out there?
Not only do you have to give, but you have to be generous in your giving. Seth Godin laid it out beautifully when he said “The new economy often involves trading in things that don’t cost money. There’s no incremental cost in writing an essay, composing a song or making an introduction. Since it doesn’t cost money to play, we have the ability to give before we get.”
Recently, I was asked by one of those “strangers” if I wanted to write as a guest on her post. Think about that for a second, Karima was asking me to use my time to write a post on her blog – why on earth would I do that, right? Wrong! Had she not “trusted” me, would she have risked damaging the reputation of her blog with one of my posts? Let’s look at it from a different angle and ask who was the one giving in this scenario, me? Yes, but how about Karima. She gave me the opportunity, the space, the trust – she even gave me access as an editor on her blog to upload my post! The planned irony is that I wrote a post about “The Art of Giving“.
One of the great things I learned from working for SUBWAY is they called the people behind the counter preparing your $5 Foot long, Sandwich Artists. Why are they called artists? Because they don’t just prepare your sandwich, they “create” an overall experience that encompasses all your 5 senses. You are a sandwich artist as well; ok maybe not a sandwich artist, but certainly an artist. Each one of us is an artist. It’s up to you, if you want to unleash the artist within.
I’m not asking you to pick a brush and start painting, but I am asking you to seek out your Mona Lisa, your 5th Symphony, your Romeo & Juliet … you have to be an artist that goes after his passion. Learn to trust yourself; it’s the first step in gaining the trust of others. In one of his podcasts, Godin defined art as the act of bringing humanity and connection to change someone else. Let your work speak of you; let it reflect you, the artist! When Da Vinci was painting Mona Lisa, was he trying to impress someone? Was he seeking some kind of recognition? He was just capture his passion in a painting, like I do in every post I write – this genuineness cannot be replicated or imitated, it can only be felt and that in turn leads to trust.
The challenge, however, is not in the unleashing of the artist per say, it’s more in handling the critics of your art, which leads me to the next element of trust – Agree to Disagree.
Agree to disagree
You probably heard the phrase a million times! Dare to be yourself, don’t plagiarize your identity to please others. People may disagree with you, and that’s ok – how can you stand out if you simply protect yourself by blending in. Question the norm, revolt against yourself and the taboos that society has cursed you with. Who’s to say that marketing only has 4Ps, I can name at least 20Ps for you without having to think! Who’s to say that Descartes was absolutely right about his infamous quote “I think therefore I am” – I think that is only half of the picture! Why are you afraid of people disagreeing with you? If you agree with everything that is said, what does that make you – a hypocrite, which is the opposite of a trustworthy person!
When people come to me for advice, I am blunt about it. I don’t patronize them by telling them what they want to hear. It might make them feel better if I did, but will I have helped them? I don’t think so! I dare you to say the truth, unpolished, untarnished, just the raw truth. People may disagree with you, sometimes even hate you, but they will certainly trust your and respect you!
So back to the initial question of how do all these people trust me? Well trust is not only transitive, it’s viral. It spreads very far. If A trusts B, and B trusts C, then A trusts C by transitivity (this where you can tell I used to be a math student). So try to replicate that model in a space like Twitter – you won’t only cover the whole alphabet, you will cover them in every language, in every font, and in every size … having said that, I’d like to share with you a list of people who taught me about the value and reach of trust. They appreciated my art and made it viral, and for that I am forever indebted to them.
George MacDonald said “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved”. Think About It!