Today we’re going to talk about the importance of trust. Building trust is fundamental to success in business (and life in general). The good news: The majority of what you can do to build trust is FREE. The challenge: It’s a mindset and a practice. So let’s take a look at some ways you can both break or build trust.

First, you may need to slow your roll. Trust takes time, and that can be frustrating when you have a goal- and task-oriented personality. Remember the personal side of the sales equation. Without established trust — without a relationship — it’s much easier for clients to be disinterested in buying from you. So if your sales results aren’t meeting your expectations, lack of trust may be an issue. From the customers’ perspective, if you’re not interested in taking the time to understand them, why should they be interested in what you have to offer?

Next, there are some easy ways to help establish and maintain your clients’ trust. Most people prefer low-risk scenarios, especially if your company is new to them. So give them a useful taste of what you can do! You can offer valuable content or product samples for free. You don’t have to give away the farm, but provide people with a quality idea or a sample that they can benefit from right away. When they see how much they get from your free offering, they will get that much more of a sense of what you can offer as a paid resource.

You also can create a loyal following by giving people more than they bargained for (in a good way!). For example, you can send a card or gift to a client who referred you. You can send an unexpected bonus product along with an order as thanks for their continued business. If you hear that something terrific happened to them, personally call to congratulate them. Gestures like that show your appreciation and interest in serving, not just selling.

Another free idea is just to be yourself, which might feel a little vulnerable. But, open up your indomitable entrepreneurial self just a little and let clients see other sides of your personality. Share something funny on your social media page, or put a personal experience in your newsletter. Let people relate to a part of you so they feel that they know you. There’s an important difference between TMI and authenticity, and the latter is something people are very much drawn to. One of my most popular posts from 2020 was a picture of my podcast set up in my closet because construction on the street made it impossible to hear my guests. I thought it looked funny to see my mic on the floor with the laundry basket, and just hoped like hell that no one saw all the dog hair. But that glimpse into my private life, no matter how silly, got more engagement than anything else.

Those are all ways to build trust. Now here’s one surefire way to break it: Routinely be a public hot mess. Trust me, I’m not into perfection and everyone, including me, has bad days. By all means vent to your spouse and scream into your pillow. But, if you publicly and consistently operate in a state of chaos people know that’s not a bad day. That’s a pattern, and we can smell your crazy. So if you want to keep your trusted reputation intact, recognize when you’re spinning and ask for help. Because trust isn’t something we buy. It’s something we earn every day. When you have it, protect it.