All of the relationships you build online are founded in trust. Without trust, your opinion means nothing to the person you seek to help, and you’re just another voice among the noise.
To find those who care about your work and what you share, you must also discover those who don’t care. As you find your place in the world, you will be forced to garner some sort of opinions on yourself and what you put out online, and these opinions and reactions will let someone come to the conclusion on if you’re the one to help them. Showing the value you provide gives someone a window into the future they can achieve with your advice, you’ve got to always overdeliver and be working to improve your impression and further build trust.
It’s important to remember that there will always be those online who hate for the sake of it, or just be mean because that’s who they are.
You’ve got to ignore them. They will only hinder your progress in the long run and shouldn’t be taken to mind too much. Instead, I’d recommend putting together a mastermind group of your most relevant colleagues and customers, so you can discuss with the relevant people and get the words directly from the source, while having the opportunity to show your own value in that group setting.
When welcoming someone into your ecosystem, they’ll likely be responsive and reasonable in the first period, as they’re still making a decision. Make this the period you overshare in and provide the most relevant content possible. Get to that trust and then find the opportunities to continually be improving it and showing how you can make that member of your audience become a better person, and feel special.
The subject of trust being broken is an entirely different beast altogether though. When someone commits to trusting you after they’ve formed their opinion and you break that trust, it’s a big deal. Entire empires have fallen from a single break of trust. And it usually can’t be recovered or gotten back.
It’s why setting the right foundations is so important so that you have a frame and a lens for that someone you seek to gain trust from in what you do.
Let’s put this in perspective. If your product repeatedly launches with bugs and errors, it will become a meme online. A permanent indelible mark on your record, hard to recover from and definitely not a good foundation for trust. So, how do we build trust with the humans on the other side of the internet?
Well, first and foremost, make sure your first impression effectively communicates your value and gives a sense of trust. As we spoke about above, trust is the foundation you need to even have the opportunity to make someone care. If your website looks like it was built by a child in Geocities, you’re not putting across a trustworthy vibe. You don’t want that. Not at all.
A study in 1982 by James Q. Wilson, a leading academic and political scientist, stated that:
“In an environment with few others around, individuals look for signals in their environment for cues on how to act”.
Wilson further explained this effect in a series of studies that eventually led to the full “Broken Windows Theory” Wilson came up with. Here’s a snippet:
“An ordered and clean environment sends the signal of safety and that the area is monitored and cared for. Conversely, a disordered environment sends the signal of a lack of care. If a criminal sees broken windows, they will know a lack of social control exists in this area. It is not so much the broken window that is the problem. But the message that it sends.”
Keep this in mind when deciding what to release, and when. The “Fuck it. Ship it” mentality has been taken too far in today’s society. Sure, getting something out might be significant. But you risk creating an environment with a lot of bugs and problems, a lot of “broken windows”.
Remember that while offline, most relationships are built on symmetry and a balance of give a take. But when online you’ve got to build an unbalanced offering in the favour of the person you’re looking to convince and assist. One that shows your value and allows you to garner the respect you will need to be able to talk to someone long enough to gain that trust.
Trust is earned. Not given. Remember that and always fulfil expectations that you create. Create belief and then deliver to those standards. Don’t overpromise or deliver buggy or unsuitable products to the people you promise to help.
In short, back up the shit that you say. Show your value.
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