At first blush, intimacy is a strange word to use in a business context. “What, I’m supposed to intimate with my clients?” In the sense that being intimate means being familiar, informal, and emotionally connected…yes, indeed.
Intimacy is one of the four components of the Trust Equation and it usually gets the short-shrift. For most, it’s more natural to build trust by increasing credibility and reliability. And yet, without intimacy, business transactions are just that–transactions–and the “safe haven” experience that is the hallmark of Trusted Advisor relationships is a pipe dream.
My mechanic taught me something the other day about being a Trusted Advisor. He screwed up in a big way. And I ended up trusting him more as a result.
I’ve been reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.
I was particularly struck by the way they tell Robert Scoble‘s story (a success story, but not usually painted as a trust story). They call Scoble one of the first trust agents ever on the World Wide Web.
Though hindsight is 20-20, many people watching Scoble’s moves at the time would have labeled him at best irreverent, irresponsible, and committed to career suicide … at worst a complete idiot. But looking at him through the lens of what it takes to become trustworthy, I’m siding with Brogan and Smith—what he did was brilliant.
I recently ran for a seat on the condo board of the brand new community I live in. I lost. In front of about 60 people.
My reaction was a mixture of gratitude (“I think I just got spared a LOT of work”), huffiness (“How could they pass ME over?”), and a dash of embarrassment (“Oh no, I think I just looked like an IDIOT in front of a large group of people”).
In reflecting on what worked and didn’t about my little platform speech (I had three minutes to pitch myself to the group), I realized there are some important lessons about trust-based selling to tease out of my defeat.
I spent the weekend in California. It started as a mini-vacation—joining a friend’s 50th birthday celebration. It ended with most of the time in my hotel room with the flu.
At first, my demeanor was positive (why compound physical misery with a bad attitude) but steadily declined as I negotiated all the logistical changes required to extend my stay until I could haul my ailing self back across the country.
I just led a program called Being a Trusted Advisor for a global consulting firm. The list of collective “ahas” that was generated at the end of class is worth sharing. As always, the beauty lies in the simplicity of each item on the list; the mastery lies in their application. Here’s a Top 12 list, in no particular order, with a little bit of voice-over added:
We were honored to collaborate recently with Trusted Advisor Associates on a series of blog posts devoted to selling in down times, organized by the Four Trust Principles. Use these links to access about 50 suggestions for developing business in tough economic times:
Thanks go to President Obama for timing his first major Presidential misstep to coincide with my delivery of a “Being a Trusted Advisor” workshop.
In class, we had been talking about human nature and the gravitational pull to avoid admitting culpability and generally looking bad when—voila—there appeared the perfect teaching point on the front page of the New York Times.
Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo wrote in “Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks” in the Harvard Business Review (June 2005) about how people choose who they work with.
“In most cases, people choose their work partners according to two criteria. One is competence at the job…the other is likability.”