There is a lot of talk about building loyalty and trust on the Internet. Various strategies and techniques have been discussed, different strategies orchestrated. Yet, it seems the majority of people miss the main ingredient of this trust-building process: being vulnerable.
The old advice "give before asking" applies here, as well. To earn someone's trust, we need to trust first. Just as people are preconditioned to smile in response to someone else's smile, we are naturally interested in people who display a genuine interest in us, and we find it easier those who trust us first.
A friend of mine will not share a picture of herself with visitors because she feels too unattractive. Another friend doesn't even want to disclose that she *is* a woman because she feels that some people will not take a female-owned business seriously enough. One of my male friends, a Black American, shared with me that he will never show his photo on the web, because he knows that some people will refuse to buy from him only because of the color of his skin.
I even know a business owner who is so concerned about the possibility of being harassed that he doesn't display his name, phone number or address on his website (funny thing is that the first thing you will see when you visit his domain is the annoying java script box asking you for your own name).
I agree that, sadly, some people refuse to do business with a woman only because she is a woman. And there are too many of those who will not buy from a person of color. Some buyers want to deal only with a large company, even if they know that you will solve their problem for less money. No matter how good you are, some people will reject you for a very superficial reason.
That's fine. A blessing in disguise, really. Consider that *they* didn't qualify to do business with you - not vice versa. After all, why would *you* want to do business with someone like that?
The Internet is a huge place, full of wonderful, progressive people with imagination. People who are able to make intelligent and rational decisions based on facts and on their own values. Look for these kind of contacts on the Internet. Build your website and your Internet presence with them in mind - not with the others. And once they come to you, don't alienate them by hiding your face and by telling them half truths. Trust their intelligence and common sense.
The more truthful you are with your true prospects and customers, the more comfortable, safe, and non-threatening they feel with you. Don't be afraid of being vulnerable. A few people might be turned off by some of your characteristics, some might even try to ridicule you. But those you would really like to do business with in the long run will recognize who you are, will identify with you, and will be inspired to trust you.
Share with visitors who you really are - show them your values, your photograph, even your shortcomings. People will respect you for this more than you might think and they will drawn to you. Ironically, it is one of the major trust building factors.
Wanda Loskot is professional business coach -- sign up for her
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