networking   A few months after I first started my coaching and consulting business a friend told me about the owner of the company who could use my services. He’d built a pretty successful business with a couple locations and had his eyes set on a few more plus starting a few more ventures.

During our first meeting he readily admitted that he had no people skills and spent a lot of time in conflict with his team members. They stayed because the wages were good and he offered performance bonuses that weren’t a mainstream practice in his industry.

After our first meeting he started calling me every now and then. He’d ask a question or suggest we have lunch and pick my brain. I never thought much of it because the calls were far and few between. When I’d give him a suggestion I might get an email that said “Thanks for your help. Your advice worked out well for me.”

I can teach my sixteen year old grand daughter how to sell something but learning to value people is something that takes time. People need to learn to trust you.

My intuition told me there was some value in establishing a relationship with him. It could lead to other opportunities. He was and is a leader and well respected in his community and sans the lack of people skills our values, both personal and professional were in alignment.

Marketing Messiah Russell Brunson said in a recent podcast. “Five good friends beats a hundred thousand subscribers any day.” I saw him as potentially one of those “good friends.”

That was about it. Until one day…………..

The phone rang. Was I available for lunch? He had, in his words, a major problem.

When I sat down he looked across the table and said “I guess I need to start paying you, huh?” That relationship lasted almost 9 years.

If I drew something that resembles a family tree he would be the trunk and the twelve or so referrals he gave me over the years would be its branches. He invited me to speak at a state conference for his industry as well as conduct his management retreats. He introduced me to a whole bunch of folks and even had me interviewed by a trade publication he was on the editorial board of.

Trust is not something you pour water on, stand back and watch it sprout in fifteen minutes. It comes from a cultivating a relationship and that time.

I could have turned away after my first meeting with him or stopped taking his phone calls.

A number of people told me he was taking advantage of me being a newbie.

That, would make me just like everyone else. I ain’t, like everyone else.

I do have people skills and I do understand what it is like to run a business and be a coach and try to figure out stuff all on my own and I know that before I write a check I am gonna make sure the person I am writing it to knows what they are talking about. In the beginning he would call every six to eight weeks and ask if I had a minute to talk. It was a test and when I passed that test I was given another one so that by the time he had a real issue he knew the value of my services because he’d seen tangible results from the issues I helped him with in the past.

We don’t create trust on the golf course or at the tapas bar. It comes when people SEE our integrity in action not just hear us blather on about it.

It all starts with relationships.

Do you know of any successful person or company who wasn’t trusted by their customers?

Me neither.