Here’s a shocker! I was reading that a CBS News/New York Times Poll revealed only 30% of respondents believed people in general are trustworthy. Not surprising perhaps but disillusioning.
But all’s not lost. When a similar group was asked,“What percent of people that you know are trustworthy?” the response jumped to 70%. Clearly knowing someone makes a big difference. The more people get to know us, the higher the level of trust. It makes sense.
A key factor in whether potential clients will hire us as personal historians is trust. But how to build trust in an introductory meeting?
I turned to The Oxford Dictionary for help. It defines trust as: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. If we take each of these components of trust, they provide clues to building rapport with a new client.
Reliability begins with the simplest of acts – showing up on time for your meeting. Nothing kills reliability more than changing an already fixed appointment date or showing up late or early.
It also helps if you’ve been in business for a few years, have a track record, and have a set of glowing testimonials.
Avoid being needy. It reeks of desperation and raises questions about the health of your business. No one wants to sign a contract with someone who’s about to go under.
Refrain from being somebody you’re not. People can smell phoniness. You don’t have to adopt a “marketing” persona or be over solicitous. Go into your meeting with a new client confident, friendly, and mindful. That’s it, nothing more.
Forgo trying to be all things to all people. For example, if your specialty is producing video biographies, don’t “fudge” things by selling yourself as a book specialist in hopes of getting the job. You won’t sound convincing. It’s better to recommend a colleague whose expertise is print. You’ll win points for being honest. While you might lose the contract, your good name will spread in the community. And that matters.
We all expect straight answers. Your clients are no different. Questions about your fees, expertise, years of experience, and the time to complete a personal history need to be answered without obfuscation.
If you’re new to personal histories, you may have little to show prospective clients. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t highlight your previous experience to establish your proficiency. For example, print and video editing, interviewing, counseling, radio and film producing all require skills that come to play in producing a print or video life story.
Regardless of the number of years experience, you want to display your interviewing expertise from the moment you meet your prospective client. If you’re friendly, curious, attentive, and non-judgmental, then you’ll have modeled good interviewing skills. This is subtle “selling” but it works in establishing trust and rapport.
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