Building Trust in New Business Relationships

Ah, trust. It’s the thing we most want with a vendor. We want to trust the people we work with, and we want to trust our clients and customers.

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Beginning to work with a new client or vendor is often a jittery experience. From the customer side, you wonder if this person will deliver what’s promised, or are you throwing good money after bad? From the freelancer’s side, the obvious question being asked is whether you’re going to be paid for your work.

Complicating matters is the fact that there are bad apples out there. There are clients who will you. There are snake-oil salesmen who will sell you garbage and disappear with your money. A lot of us have been burned, so it’s no wonder we go into business relationships with suspicion.

One thing that has worked well for me is to agree to a small project to start. A small project is a low-risk way for each party to feel each other out and build trust. Once the project is approved and the check clears, the level of trust should rise significantly.

But what about trust before that stage? I think communication is the solution here. If you keep discussion honest, some level of trust should begin to form. And that’s what should happen anyway. Integrity is very important to me, and when my integrity is questioned, I tend to be offended. If you value your own integrity, you must respect that of the other party.

We’ve all experienced that uneasy feeling when we think somebody is trying to pull a fast one. Sure, we have to defend ourselves from the charlatans, but we must also give leads the benefit of the doubt. That’s where the small project can be so powerful. A small project minimizes risk to both the freelancer and the client.

Like tends to attract like, so if you operate your business with integrity and pay your bills, you’ll tend to attract other honest people. There’s nothing at all wrong with working with people you trust.

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