How do you make people feel like they can trust you?

Kristin Shea, Aug 2017

Trust is defined as “the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”.

In 2016, the American Association of Individual Investors asked 1,904 respondents much they trust the financial services industry to do what is in the best interest of its clients. The results are not surprising considering the recent spotlight on the DOL’s fiduciary rule, but they are not to be taken lightly.

Only 2% of respondents claim to trust financial professionals “a lot”, while 15% say they trust them “a little”.

So how do we earn trust with our clients? Ideally, trust is there before the relationship starts. There is no better way to begin a client relationship than if it comes as a referral. Another way to establish trust early is through having credibility in your social networks – both online and offline. As the relationships with your clients evolve, you’ll have the chance to establish a track record of doing what you say you’re going to do and proving your character over time.

But let’s pretend like you’re meeting someone for the first time – you’re networking at your local Chamber of Commerce, at a volunteering event, running a booth at a County festival, or talking to a stranger in the grocery store check out. At this point, the question changes from how do we earn trust with our clients to how do we develop trust with other human beings (and fast)?

Like many things, trust comes from a chemical reaction. Cue the fancy science word of the day – Oxytocin. Oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone”, regulates social interaction and is the founding hormone of trust. It can reduce stress and anxiety and increase psychological stability and relaxation.  

If you can find a way to activate oxytocin in the people you interact with, you will have a better chance of gaining and retaining clients. With your practice and business in mind, here are 8 ways to stimulate trust building hormones in others (and yourself):

1.       Active listening and eye contact

Connecting with others increases oxytocin and elevates trust. You cannot effectively listen to other people and engage in meaningful conversations when you are not giving people your full attention – doing things like texting, answering emails, staring out the window. Be present in your conversations with others. Listen to what they have to say. Watch what they do. They will feel closer to you for it.

2.       Bring your pet into the office

Positive interactions with pets, combined with the human instinct to care for others, will increase oxytocin levels. Many top advisors bring their dog to the office or keep treats at the office for the pets of their clients. Another thing we’ve seen advisors do is – as a client event or as a part philanthropic initiative - volunteer at a local pet shelter.

3.       Become a hugger

This one is very simple – human touch is a foundation for intimacy, bonding, and acceleration relationships. Therefore positive touches, like hugs, activate oxytocin. Because some people are not as comfortable with touching, be mindful when and how you use this trust building tool. Instead of shaking hands – offer that you’re a hugger, and if they are too, then hey! Give em a hug!

4.       Have a walking meeting

Physical activity stimulates the neurons in our brain – including oxytocin. Walking meetings, also known as the “walk and talk” are becoming increasingly recommended by business coaches as the act of walking increases creative thinking, leads to more honest exchanges, breaks down barriers, and increases engagement.

Couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Consider including an extra curricular destination on your route
  • Do not surprise your clients with walking meeting
  • Stick to small groups
  • If its a warm day, bring a couple bottles of water

5.       Take it to the extreme

Many social activities that are moderately “stressful” can stimulate oxytocin. Invite a group of 10 people or so to an amusement park, go Go-Kart racing, or rock climbing to put an exciting twist on client events. Maybe consider prospecting at 5k's.

6.       Give gifts or do favors

There are some limitations that financial professionals may face when it comes to giving gifts depending on their license, but receiving gifts is a surefire way to elevate oxytocin. Another thing you can do to evoke a similar response could be as simple as baking someone cookies or offering them a tissue.

7.       Share a meal

Eating food is a comforting social act. Sharing meals will increase trust levels with others. To combine this with tip #6, eat on your dime! Take your clients out to coffee, invite your A-List clients out to dinner, host a wine tasting event, have a cookie exchange, or even buy the stranger next to you at the bar a drink. According to Matt Oechsli’s research, “non-business lunches” have the highest correlation to acquiring new business.

8.       Use social media

Wondering why everyone is so addicted to Facebook? Its because social media makes people FEEL GOOD! Connecting with strangers, your friends, and clients on Facebook or LinkedIn and then sharing stories, pictures, information with them online is one of the most effective ways to raise oxytocin. Just don’t forget about your friends and life in the real world. :)