Why is Trust so important in business networking?

In business networking circles we frequently bound around the ‘Know Like Trust’ formula as the tried and tested route to delivering referrals for our business. But what does it actually mean when put into action?

Know Like Trust…Is it that simple?

It sounds simple, right. Have a coffee; get to know and like each other and hey presto the trust is formed and the referrals come rolling in. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more involved than that.

Building trust might sound like a formula but it requires a lot more than the quick ‘skip and a jump’ of a couple of 121 meetings and some cake!

What’s this Trust thing all about?

Trust is the ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something,” which says a lot about how much is expected of us in order to achieve success from the ‘Know Like Trust’ formula.

Building and maintaining trust does not happen overnight; nor is there an easy route to achieving it. It takes time and effort to establish ourselves as a trusted person and we have to keep working hard to maintain it.

People in networking situations often give up long before the magic starts to happen because they are impatient and too hungry for a sale. Networking is not a sales activity, it’s a relationship building exercise that we need to nurture over time (if we want to get sustainable results from it).

FACT:  when we make a referral, we put our valuable reputations on the line. So, we’re not going to risk recommending just anybody. We need to ‘trust’ that the referral will be a positive experience for the recipient – otherwise we risk devaluing the referrals we make in the future.

How do we build trust?

To gain someone’s trust we must prove ourselves in three vital ways: Reliability, Credibility and Reputation…but don’t forget, these things ‘come out’ slowly during the time we are getting to know someone, so it’s going to take more than a couple of coffee dates to achieve this status.

Here’s a few ideas of how you can grow into a trusted contact with the people in your network.


  • Demonstrate that you are dependable, honest and consistent. ALL THE TIME!
  • Follow through with everything you say you’re going to do.
  • Show up, be interested and willing.
  • Consistently attend your networking group and make sure you and look for ways that you can help and support your fellow members. This is a great way to show off your authenticity and your ability to deliver. You’ll soon lose respect from those around you if your attendance is patchy and you let people down.
  • Your actions speak volumes and showcase what you’re capable of – so make them count!


We need to believe that you are the best person for the job. Be sure to portray yourself as genuine, organised and proactive at all times – especially in your networking groups where people will be assessing your credibility before taking the step to refer you.

  • Never miss an opportunity to prove your expertise and competency. A great way to do this is to gather testimonials and case studies and use them in your pitches and share on social media.
  • Focus on ‘how’ you help people and the good you are doing – people love real life stories!
  • In particular,  show off your trustworthiness and sincerity. If someone was referred to you and you DIDN’T sell them anything because they didn’t need it, or you signposted them to what they did need, then that is a very powerful message for the people who refer you.
  • Take the time to do some favours for the people around you. It’s a great way to build a relationship and it shows you off in a great light when people thank you publicly.


  • Work hard on establishing a strong reputation for being the kind of person that other people want to do business with.
  • Your reputation is the sum of the opinions and beliefs that others have of you, so remember, you are ALWAYS showcasing who you are and what you stand for; and people are watching you.
  • This includes how you conduct yourself at networking events or the comments you make on social media. They all contribute to the overall picture and don’t forget, if you break someone’s trust it’s a lot harder to earn it the second time.

It might seem like hard work, but the results speak for themselves…

The art of networking is all about building friendships, so if you think of it that way you’ll understand what is required. Getting through the Know, Like, Trust formula requires a lot of different types of interactions and opportunities – exactly the same way you build relationships in your social life.

But, if you stick with it, you have a positive group of people around you that like and trust YOU. Not your business, but you. So, wherever life takes you, they only need to learn your new business idea or your new role and they are off referring you again, because the hard work of learning to trust you as a person has already been done.

The Know Like Trust formula might seem simple, but it isn’t easy.

We have a lot to prove before people will happily recommend us, but it’s worth the journey. If you get this right, you will have sustainable referrals for life and you’ll have some great new friendships too.

And remember, your next best client (or someone they know) could be watching you right now. What are you doing to make sure that you are going to be top of the list when they choose their next supplier?

Nicky Thomas
Nicky Thomas is a business connector, referral marketing expert and founder of The Growth Community. She loves nothing more than to see people connect and build a new relationship and/or open up new opportunities for each other. Want to try out our very relaxed, yet incredibly purposeful meetings?

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