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Authenticity in Networking: building trust by being yourself

The latest 2 Min Networking Tip is all about being yourself! For me that’s one of the quickest and most effective forms of marketing yourself and your business: showing the world who you are by being authentic. But sharing your authentic self whilst networking might not always be the best ideas…

One of the key ingredients of building effective relationships through networking is trust. Without trust people won’t refer us to their friends, won’t recommend us to their clients, and they sure as heck won’t want to give us their hard earned cash!
Being honest and authentic with the people we meet is a great big step in the right direction for building trusting relationships – but as networking is often a ‘professional’ situation, can you be too open and honest? Are there some parts of yourself that don’t belong on the networking stage and should be kept for friends and family only?

It goes back to the old “this isn’t Facebook” comment on someone’s LinkedIn post who’s shared a picture of their new-born baby. Some people believe that our personal and professional lives should be kept separate, as if they are two different lives completely. But if that’s the case, how can we ever really get to know each other? And therefore, can we ever really build trust?

I’m Jeni 100% of the time. I can’t help it. Yes I wear different hats: Mum, wife, networker, entrepreneur, friend, sister, Aunt. But I’m always myself regardless.

No-one is one-dimensional. We all have different roles to play, different layers, and together they make us a whole. Like Lego bricks! Each brick is a different piece of our personality and only when put together do they make us a complete person.

When it comes to networking, we often only showcase a couple of our bricks to the people we encounter – our work brick, sometimes our friend brick, often just our professional brick. We get to choose who we share what bricks with, and that’s okay. Some people may be more open to sharing more than others, but I do believe it’s important to not just show our professional bricks when building trusting relationships, and here’s why –

One of my favourite quotes on trust comes from The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R Covey, and it says:

Trust is equal parts character and competence…’

Read that again and give it a minute to sink in.

In order to building trust within our network we must showcase both our character and our competence. Only showing people your professional brick isn’t enough! You could be the best at what you do in the whole world, but if people don’t get the chance to see who you are as a person, they’re probably not going to work with you.

Showcasing your character can come in many different forms, and doesn’t mean you have to bare your soul to everyone you meet! It can be little things like following up on the things you said you would, remembering someone’s birthday, meeting deadlines, doing voluntary work. All of these little actions build up over time and help create a clearer picture of your character. They may not feel like much in the moment, but trust me (excuse the pun) they make a big difference!

Humans are complex beings. We’re strange, multifaceted, complicated, messy creatures that crave connection. Don’t be afraid to show the world that you’re human inside as well as outside of work, and that you’re open to really connect with other people.

Be yourself: yes. Be professional: yes. Be human: abso-frikin-lutely.

 

For more on building relationships check out a previous blog 5 Ways to Nurture Your Relationship with Social Media or take a look at our library of 2 Min Networking Tips!

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