The Sound of Silence

People buy from other people, we know this. People buy from other people that they trust, we know this too. Let’s talk about trust. More specifically, how do you get a customer to trust you?

Trust, for me, only occurs once you have done what you said you would do. In short, you deliver on your promises, be them personal or corporate and contractual. You can’t build trust in any other way. You can’t build trust through brand and marketing, or sales. You can’t build it online or through email. You can only build it through personal interaction and by delivering on what you say you will.

You can, however, build credibility which is critically important. Before trust, people listen and respond to people with credibility. In a saturated content world, how do you go about building credibility if you don’t have subject matter expertise?

Through our Social Selling, digital reputation and presence programmes, we focus on building credibility – because nobody likes the noisy crowd that bangs out content about things they aren’t really knowledgeable in, simply because they have a ‘microphone’.

Establishing your credibility is key – if you are unable to deliver differentiated insight about a subject matter, don’t try. As Abraham Lincoln said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” (According to some sources on the internet, he actually said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to post it on Facebook and remove all doubt!”)

You can, however, build credibility in other ways than just through expert knowledge. It’s not always that difficult, to do it you need to commit to these principles:

1. Understanding: if somebody takes the time to provide you with information they felt was of use, and in context to your needs, take the time to at least understand it. It’s easy in a world of so much content to skim it and make assumptions, which often leaves both parties confused and disappointed.

2. Response: respond to everyone, no matter how long it takes (although too long and it will be considered no response at all). Rarely is anybody that important or busy to be able to do this. It takes commitment, and management (I’m not suggesting you respond to every spam email you ever get), but a simple acknowledgement goes a long way to building a credible image.

3. Courage: tackling the difficult conversations that you often run from head on is easier than you think if you take a professional and pragmatic approach – even the most disappointing of news can build your credibility if you take a moment to deliver it well.

4. Recognition: when somebody deserves it, recognise their effort or work. There are more opportunities than ever to do this with the simple ‘like’ mechanism that most channels offer. A virtual ‘high-five’ can go a long way.

I would argue that following these principles is necessary even if you do have defined subject matter expertise you can draw on. In reality, what’s the alternative?

You may be the sharpest mind in your field but if you don’t listen, respond and engage effectively, you can get stuck at ‘ineffective’ and never even make it to ‘credible’.

For more information on how Gilroy works with people and brands to build that credibility in a digitally transforming world, email us at

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