Best Practices in HR
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Bryan Heathman
  January 4, 2017

Crossing the Trust Gap – Musings on Thought-Leadership

The ancient Romans had a saying that still lives today—Caveat Emptor, or let the buyer beware.

Just as in ancient times, there’s a lot for buyers to be nervous about in today’s marketplace. From the world of home ownership to your local pharmacy, so many choices have the potential to yield unfortunate results. Truly, the buyer must beware now as much as ever.

Booksellers are not immune to this consumer skittishness. As a speaker, author or thought leader, it behooves you to move the conversation forward with your audience across the great divide I call the Trust Gap. As you gain success in establishing trust, then your message, your brand, and your products will take root.

Let’s consider the seven ways you can improve your relationship with the world-at-large.

7 Fundamentals to Bridge the Trust Gap

As a subject matter expert, people are looking to you to provide the benefit of your knowledge and experience. They want to see you as a trusted ally, and they want to believe in you.

Following are seven fundamental elements necessary to improve your interaction with your audience and build trust.

1. Understand Your Audience

Consider your audience and their needs. How does your knowledge of your chosen topic fit with their needs? Are there areas where your topical understanding could use a boost? Where is your knowledge specialized or unique—different from every other expert’s comprehension?

Be clear on what you’re offering, understand just how well you present your material, then improve yourself. Stay up to date by subscribing to trade publications, keeping an eye on industry news, and attending workshops and seminars in your field. This is one of the greatest investments you can make in your speaking and writing business.

2. Life Hacks

Synthesize your knowledge into clear, compelling solutions using directives that actually work…some call these “life hacks.” Do you have a unique approach that no one else is offering? Do you have an off-beat way of viewing the chief pain in your prospects’ lives? Are you able to provide tools and techniques that no one else has considered before?

The difficulty that many thought leaders face is a qualified lack of confidence in the thing that makes them especially unique. Embrace your weird little hacks—those solutions that genuinely work. Bring them out to see the light of day and attract an audience. The human mind is attracted to uniqueness!

3. Have a Unique Point of View

Beyond offering solutions that no one else has, your individual take on your field makes you qualified to speak to an audience no one else can address—at least, not in quite the same way. Your perspective gives you an entry into a world no one else can tap into like you can.

There are thousands of books on leadership, and even several dozens that shares a common name. What makes each one different—and salable—is the fact that each of these authors has a unique point of view. Find yours and tap it for all it’s worth.

4. Capitalize on Shared Experiences to Create an Instant Bond

What do you have in common with your avatar—you know, that icon which so keenly represents the ideal member of your audience? How do you relate to the people you would like to serve?

Whether you have experienced their pain directly or you have stories to tell about others like them who have already solved their problems, you owe it to your audience to help them see what you have in common.

Use stories to illustrate the experiences you share with them and connect the dots for your audience. Lay it all out clearly and help others see your common bond.

5. Speak With Authority

I once had a music teacher who was known for his charisma. His favorite fiat was, “If you’re going to make a mistake, do it with authority.” In other words, don’t be timid.

There’s no reason to omit your sense of authority from a dialog. If you have something to say, say it clearly and confidently. To play the role of expert, there’s no room for half-hearted guesses. Speak with authority and others will trust what you say.

6. Listen

“If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” The way to build a better mousetrap is to interview someone with a mouse problem in their garage. Ask me how, I know.

Tap into your prospects’ greatest pain by listening to their stories about what that pain looks like. Ask them about it—about what makes that pain so especially difficult to endure. Use social media, email, surveys or your website to solicit their opinions. When they answer, listen.

7. Be Yourself

Nobody likes an imposter. Being your authentic self is the surest way to bond with others and attract people of like minds. Building rapport is essential to crossing the trust gap.

Wherever possible, be candid without losing your sense of tact. Be direct without being blunt. Be transparent without totally losing your sense of mystery. The surest way to build trust is to be yourself. Everything else flows from that.

Just as in ancient times, it’s possible to build a successful career as a scribe or an orator. With measured practice and perseverance, you can build a bridge across the Trust Gap. In time, you’ll find your persistence pays off. Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day.