How to Build Trust with Your Network

When your job involves interacting with people daily, it’s imperative to make sure you instil trust quickly. Your network will be much more likely to give you business if they think you’re trustworthy.

Everyone talks these days.

And most industries describe themselves as incestuous.

So your credibility turns to dust if you can’t be relied on.

LinkedIn calls you out.

Glassdoor crucifies you.

And worse, candidates and clients will stop doing business with you.

But there’s no reason to slash your own purse strings just yet. Your destiny’s quite literally in your own hands.

The thing is, how trustworthy your network thinks you are, is exactly how trustworthy you are.

So this is how you control the opinion.

From a scholastic perspective, there’s actually a formula for trust. It was first put forward by David Maister, Charles M. Green and Rob Galford in their book, The Trusted Advisor

Their thinking’s quite accepted, and many books have further demonstrated the theory. How to Win Friends and Influence People, for example, by Dale Carnegie is a good example.

And learning the four principles of trust can guide interactions in your career. Here’s the equation:

Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy / Self-Orientation = Trust

So you need high amounts of the first three of these, with a low amount of the latter. And this is how you do it.

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1. Credibility

There’s absolutely no substitute for knowing your stuff professionally. You’ll notice whichever agency you work for, the longest serving consultants have an air of authority.

They speak to the most people. They know the next project coming up. They know the skills and accreditations inside out. They’ve got skin in the game.

This doesn’t happen by accident.

Time served recruitment consultants have been asked the most questions. They’ve worked ‘impossible to fill’ placements and immersed themselves in their market. You go to them with queries. They know recruitment and they know their market.

Credibility comes with time, but it will come. And when it does you’ve taken the first step to building trust.

2. Reliability

In terms of recruiting, this is one of the biggest factors there is to earning trust. Namely, doing what you say you’re going to do.

It’s a very simple thing to master, yet one of the biggest frustrations for most people in life. And that’s not just in recruitment. Think about asking a good friend for a favour and while they’re forthcoming in accepting but the action never arrives.

You’d be annoyed, right?

It’s the same in business.

Recruitment shouldn’t be like that. Yes you work for a business, but your best clients come back to you. Not just the whoever picks up the phone. If you want to be dependable, you need to be available.

Never over promise, or offer something you can’t deliver. Be consistent. And make your own life easier.

3. Intimacy

Intimacy in the trust equation is all about how safe someone feels entrusting you with something.

This will happen a lot over the course of your life. It’ll probably happen every day. Be it a secret. A possession. An opinion. A conversation. Or, in a recruiter’s case, a career.

Both credibility and reliability determines how forthcoming intimacy is.

The first time you pick up the phone or meet somebody, professionally or socially, the intimacy in your relationship will be low. Once you’ve shown you’re reliable and know your onions, it’ll rise.

They’ll tell you personal things. Keep counsel with you. This is how great relationships are started in recruitment.

4. Self-Orientation

This is the only denominator in the trust equation.

Credibility, reliability and intimacy are added together, and then divided by self-orientation.

This means the more you have of the first three, the higher the trust. The more self-orientation, the lower the trust.

This is because self-orientation is all about YOU.

You might place a candidate and be working out the commission. The holidays. Your position on the leaderboard. The acclaim. The money.

That’s being self-orientated. And it’ll show to people on the outside.


It’s all about the long game

In recruitment you don’t often have an opportunity to show all of the above in one conversation. Your first call will be short. And rapport’s built up over a long period.

Trust isn’t something you can plant, grow and build on in a day.

It takes time and is fragile.

If you break trust with someone, you’re back to square one. Maybe even behind that. When you’re handling someone’s career no one will work with you if you can’t be trusted.

Therefore consistently building trust, and showing the four points above is the best strategy.

Trust Sign

Now your long game’s sorted, let’s look at ways you can work on trust daily.

Be honest

Saying or doing things you don’t believe in won’t instil trust. However hard it is, be true to your convictions. Admit mistakes. Be transparent.

Be consistent

Treading a steady path every day will mean your actions are easy to predict. If those actions are well intentioned, that’s how you’ll become known.

Follow up 

Follow up. With good news. Bad news. No news at all. Learn to be quick in delivering bad news. It’s one of the most welcomed traits in recruiters.

People even appreciate no news phone calls and emails more than you’d ever believe. It says “I’m still working.” “I haven’t forgotten about you.” “I’m still here.”

And that in recruitment is priceless.

Be confidential

You’ll get people telling you things in this job they won’t tell their loved ones.

Having a sympathetic ear will work wonders for your relationship building. But it will erode very quickly if you gossip or pass information on.

Be on time

Such a small point, but one that on a fundamental level will instil trust, daily.

If you’re late, you’re not true to your word. Occasional lateness isn’t the end of the world. Being late every time is unprofessional and avoidable.

And it’ll define you.

Be quick to apologise

We all mess up. Every one of us.

Realising that and apologising quickly with empathy will ensure trust doesn’t evaporate.

Do things well

Anything worth doing’s worth doing properly. This is especially true in recruitment.

If you don’t put everything into each task, you might as well not start. It’s a waste of your time and trust will diminish.


And that’s how you become trustworthy.

By affirming these actions, every day. Time and time again. Do so and you’ll become not just a trusted recruiter, but a trusted career partner for your network.

And here, if you’ve not read so already, is how to be listened to.