Your entire network, your credibility in it and future interactions with others, all depend on trust.
Although perceptions are shaped by first impressions, trust is harnessed in the long term. It is the foundation that makes the relationship last. So even if you make the wrong first impression, you can win the long game by making others like you, and building trust in your work and personality.
According to a 2009 OECD study, trust determines "which people in the community are perceived as potential partners rather than as rivals". For this reason, trust is the social protocol that determines how relationships between people impact the overall progress in society.
The effectiveness of trust is particularly evident amongst professional networks. Take for example EY's 2021 Global Alumni Survey, which highlighted that 74% of the company's alumni felt a strong relationship with the company's current employees, because of trust networks. EY's former global CEO, Mark A. Weinberger, commented:
When I left the organization, I never left the people – we continued sharing insights and opportunities.
So what are the factors that can empower your trustworthiness as a professional?
According to Jeffrey Hayzlett, author of "The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures", the components that build trust in organizations, and in our case networks, are: Competency, sincerity and relevancy.
Competency is about being reliable, and efficient in what you do.
Sincerity is about being open and honest. Being sincere about your work, and achievements always increase the level of trust in a relationship. Dishonesty and hiding of things, can result in exactly the opposite.
Relevancy is about being connected to relevant interests, messages and values of like-minded people in your network.
So remember. In your professional network, be honest and don't exaggerate, deliver on your promises, and stay true to your values. These very simple principles can go a long way in establishing your trustworthiness among others.
In the words of the business author, Lance Secretan,
Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently.