December 6, 2020

Know, Like & Trust – The Keys To Successful Networking

Friends who know, like and trust each other

If you’ve ever done any type of sales or marketing, you’ve probably heard the term – know, like, trust. What this refers to is the factors needed to persuade someone to buy your product or service. First, someone must know you, then they must like you, then they must trust you before they will open their wallets.

At first, this progression makes sense. How can you get someone to like you before they know you? I do agree that all three factors are important, however, we tend to place most of the importance on the first factor, being known. Sure being well known is good, but does it matter if people know you if they don’t like or trust you?

One of the key frustrations with networking, in general, is that we are taught that being known is the most important thing. Unfortunately, by skipping the last two steps we do ourselves a great disservice. I believe the reason that we do not focus on the last two is because of the old sales adage that “Sales Is Simply A Numbers Game”. The belief is that if you knock on enough doors, sooner or later you will bump into someone who will buy from you on sight. It’s a belief that you can give short shrift to “Like” and “Trust” because there is a segment of the population that is primed and ready to buy whatever it is that you are selling. Does this sound familiar…If you knock on 1,000 doors, 100 will open and 10 will buy. The reason most people find sales so unpleasant is dealing with the 990 rejections along the way. It takes a special type of person to grind through that type of pain regularly.

Likability and Trustworthiness

A different way to approach sales is to build your like and trust factors. In contrast to the belief that people either like you or not, there are things you can do to make yourself more likable and influence people to trust you more.

First thing, understand that no-one can like you more than you like yourself. One of the biggest blockers to having people like you is poor self-image. Maintaining a good self-image does not mean you can eliminate all doubts or pretend you’re perfect. You just have to recognize that a negative self-image may have been the way you have protected yourself against failure.

The good news is that you don’t have to continue this behavior. The things you focus on in your life tend to increase. So, if you focus on negative outcomes, you actually increase the likelihood of them happening. Try this exercise: Write a long list of positive adjectives that describe you, asking others to describe your best qualities and strengths, and, for one week, write down every self-image thought you have and marketing it as positive or negative. This will help bring positive thoughts to the front of your mind.

To connect with others, be yourself. Be authentic and genuine. Whatever you believe about your strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills is what you transmit to others. Your perception of yourself becomes the other person’s reality. This does NOT mean projecting aptitude in an area that you do not genuinely feel confident in. But taking stock of the areas that you ARE capable in and making sure you communicate that as part of your personal brand. For instance, if you are very organized, make sure people know that about you. Whenever someone needs help getting organized, they know you are the person to call.

Be a good listener. Learn empathy. If that’s not your strong suit, it is something you can practice. Try to see the speaker’s side of things, even if you disagree. This doesn’t mean that you are a milquetoast who never argues, but you can begin your argument from a place of understanding their viewpoint clearly before inserting your own. Also, don’t try to solve every problem. Quite often people just want someone to hear them, not go to bat for them. Learn how to tell the difference. Here are some tips that will make you a better listener.

1: As you listen, apply your own experiences to their situation.

2: focus on the other person and ask some probing questions.

3: pay attention to words, energy, and body language; make no assumptions about what the person is saying, and ask questions to verify what the person is saying.

Try to find the good in everyone. Remember that Hurt People, Hurt People. The person that you think is mean, unkind, and/or selfish is quite often hurting inside and their bad behavior is a reflex against a world that has been unfair to them. Quite often they think they are just “keeping it real”. Remind them that being real does not allow you to avoid social niceties — you may not behave rudely, obnoxiously, or inappropriately.

Be open to other people

Recognize other people have different styles.

Keep an open mind and don’t jump to conclusions. You don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life.

When communicating, use words, tone and animation, facial expressions, and body language that is similar to the other person’s. This requires paying attention to the other person’s body language. Also…

  1. Say nice things.
  2. Stand tall and speak confidently.
  3. Be positive about yourself, without bragging.

Notice energy

People transmit good or bad energy all the time. People feel energy, often without anyone being aware of it. Notice your energy. Shift your energy by thinking of a specific time when you felt a way that would send positive and authentic energy. Let this memory shift your energy. Return to this memory as needed. Notice the other person’s energy. Be careful of people who are energy drainers. 


Listen to what people say and mean, not just what you think you heard or want them to say.

Identify communication preferences (seeing versus hearing, for example), the other person’s motives, concerns, commonalities, interests, and passions.

Smile, nod, maintain eye contact, limit talking, ask questions, manage your own emotions, listen for ideas and opportunities to confirm your understanding of what the other person is saying, and ignore or fix distractions.

Do not interrupt, multitask, judge, argue, think about what to say next, have expectations or preconceptions, or appear impatient.

People remember more about how you make them feel than what you said.

Do things for others without expecting anything in return.

People warm up to new acquaintances in stages. Give them time for those stages.


Most people conflate trust with integrity. But it is deeper than that. To have trust in someone means that you also believe that they are competent. I may trust a friend with my car, not only because I believe he will return it (integrity). But I also believe that he can drive (competence). You see one without the other just doesn’t work.

Your potential customer must not only believe that you INTEND to do as promised, but they must also believe that you are capable to fulfill your promise. This is the part that so many solopreneurs skip. We think that people will take for granted that we will perform as expected simply because we claim it to be true. However, today’s consumer has been burned more than a few times and has learned to ask for some kind of proof of your capability. 

One way to gain that trust is by obtaining the requisite third party certifications. and licenses. But another and almost more impactful way is through referrals and testimonials. If you have other people saying you know what you are doing, especially if your potential customer knows that person you can instantly gain trust.

This is why building a network is so important. Because it’s not possible to know everyone, you have to leverage the likability and trust the people in your network already have with THEIR network. By having a group of people around you, everyone will assume that you must be likable and trustworthy and you won’t have to work so hard or long building those relationships with 1,000 people, you can have deep relationships with a much smaller group and ask them to make introductions when needed.


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