Your Online Story and The Line of Trust

So there’s something that’s been on my mind lately: Trust.

Building trust as a business is exactly like building trust as person.

It’s about consistency of character and repeatedly proving to people that you’ll act in accordance with any promises you make – spoken or unspoken.

Let’s talk about the opposite for a sec.

Have you ever met a person you didn’t quite trust? (Of course! We all have!)

But have you ever thought about why you didn’t trust that person?

Maybe it was something they said that didn’t sit quite right. Maybe the sum of their stories simply didn’t add up.

I recently had that feeling with a person I met in a business setting. Let’s call him Jeff.

I had actually met Jeff a few times before and every time I spoke to him I felt I was getting a slightly different version of his story.

One day he had just finished a book. The next he was creating an online training program. The next day he was planning a speaking trip around the world.

On the surface Jeff seemed like a great dude. He was super nice, easy going and I actually quite liked him. But when I checked out his website to learn more about what he did it still didn’t give me a clear picture. I checked his LinkedIn, Googled around –  the pieces didn’t quite fit and after several meetings and a few searches I still had a very foggy picture of what he did.

Jeff may have been completely legit and honest, but the stories he told and his digital trail did nothing to build my trust in him.

Today, with so many channels for communication, it’s hard to expect people to simply trust what you say. It’s only natural when you meet someone that you’ll Google them or check out their website.

If what they say doesn’t match their online presence or they can’t give you a clear story you tend to be careful with how much you trust them (at least you should).

I call this the Line of Trust. It’s a line that your mind follows on the different channels of communication – online or in-person that clarifies your story as a person or business and creates the consistency required to build trust.

I don’t know if this is how the brain actually works, but that’s not the point.

The point is that if someone is following any kind of thread leading to you – whether it’s the things you say, your social media, product, website etc. they need to get a clear picture of you to build the kind of trust needed to engage and buy from you.

Having a strong brand is having a clean line of trust.

Everywhere where people encounter you the picture of what you do gets more clear as opposed to more foggy. The Line of Trust is the line that connects the dots to create the picture in the coloring book of life.

The more clear the line, the more trust you build.

As human beings we naturally look for this line of trust. I imagine it’s a part of some age old survival instinct.

As a brand you have to make sure you’re consistent on all platforms. You have to have a simple, consolidated story that’s easy to track and verify.

You do this by creating an aligned message and making sure that wherever you show up you’re telling the same story.

People will forgive you if you have an old blog post from before you pivoted. Or an instagram account that hasn’t been updated in a few months.

But if you have too many things that break the line of trust you’ll start to lose people.

The same thing goes for the story you tell about your business or product. If there’s a fact out of place, or something amiss you can break that line and lose a potential opportunity.

And that’s much more likely to happen that you might think.

There’s no quick fix to this but a simple way to start cleaning up your line of trust is to:

  • Work on aligning your story wherever people encounter you – social, web and what you tell people in person. just clean it up!
  • Make your story true and authentic – don’t try and be something you’re not. It’s hard to keep up appearances when it’s not coming from the heart.
  • Be honest with where you’re at – don’t fake it till you make it. Be transparent with where your business is at any given time.

Jeff might have simply been finding his way when I met him. Perhaps he was trying to find a new business model or still figuring out his life. Had he been more transparent the story I encountered online would have actually made sense. A guy trying to figure out what he wants to do and trying new things to see what fits. Nothing wrong with that.

Start with those little things above and you’ll most likely keep that line from breaking, then begin curating your ‘brand’ wherever people encounter it so that each story supports the other to build trust even more quickly.

Hit me up if you want to chat about this on a deeper level for your biz.