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February 7, 2009

Freebies and the Trust Based Relationship

After a career speaking to groups all over the world I recently suffered my first real bout of nervousness for about 12 years.

It was my first seminar, ever, in Australia. That in itself is amazing enough. But it was also in the company where I started my career, and a company where my brother and father still work to this day. They are also pretty well recognized for hiring and deploying quality people in my area. 

And for some reason, all of those things together really got to me.

Fortunately, a lifetime of performing in front of groups paid off and I am pretty sure that it went well. In fact, I have already received a couple of congratulatory emails so I am relieved and extremely happy of course.

After I left the main conversation, strangely, was "how much did THAT cost?"

There was stunned silence when the room found out that I actually did it for nothing. Zero. Not the promise of work - nothing. 

Why? Isn't that commercially foolish? I don' think so. 

I am big on trust. Very big on it. In fact - as people get more and more cynical it is probably the best marketing and sales tool that we have. And not an artificial construct - but sincere trust.

Trust in my character, that I am a person who would follow through on what I promise to deliver. And trust in my abilities - that I  (and my team) bring a mixed bag of scarce and valuable skills that can help their organization to get quick cashable results. 

And I am happy to invest my time and travel in developing that process. 

It takes time - but once people develop trust in your character and abilities they are happy to work with you. They give you repeat work, they line up to give you personal references and if anything goes wrong (as things sometimes do) then they will actively defend you.

trust takes time to lose. People are not very willing to admit they made a mistake so they will tolerate a lot before they have to openly admit that they were wrong to trust you.

Once trust is lost they will battle with you every step of the way. They won't call, and they won't tell anybody else about you. In fact - they will actively work against you if the opportunity presents itself.

So why would I do this for nothing? A small investment in developing a commercial relationship built firmly on trust.  A phenomenal investment any day, and a particularly important investment as we head deeper into uncertain times.