At One of many we believe in the power of collaboration. The community we’ve created and the mutual support we offer each other is fundamental to our success. And that support rests on one crucial thing: knowing how trust is built, and making sure our collaboration rests on strong foundations.

I’ve experienced what it’s like to develop a relationship of trust on countless occasions. In fact, one of the people in my life I trust most – Suzanne Dibble, who leads the Empress Collective with me – was someone I ‘met’ online way before we connected face to face. I was looking for someone to interview about UK law, and her name was recommended by someone in a Facebook group I was in.

Fast forward a few years, and I’m trusting Suzanne with my name, my business reputation, and a big chunk of my revenue. But how do you get from Facebook friend to trusted ally? It’s not a fast process, that’s for sure – and there are some key pitfalls to avoid.

How Trust is built

Let’s be clear – I’m definitely not suggesting that you blindly trust everyone you come across. That’s a recipe for heartbreak and let down, for sure. But from the people who take care of our kids to the accountants who keep an eye on our income and the partners we blend our lives with, a full and fulfilling life requires us to trust people.

Here’s how we see trust being built:

1. Approach with an open heart

We see this a lot in relationships: A bad experience can shut down our willingness to be vulnerable and get to know someone. But just as one heartbreak doesn’t mean you’ll never find a partnership that’s right for you, having one negative experience certainly doesn’t prevent you from trusting again. Try to give each person you come across a blank sheet. It doesn’t mean being naive – it does mean giving them the chance to prove themselves, one way or another.

2. Always start small

The simplest answer to the question of how trust is built is: in small steps, one chunk at a time. When you first meet someone, you begin to get a feel for how good they are at keeping their word. Do they show up on time? Do they do what they say they’re going to do? Over time, these little agreements build up to a sense of how trustworthy someone is. For Suzanne and I, it started with me interviewing her for a business program I was running. Later, I spoke at her event – another chance to see the countless tiny clues that told me the kind of person she was, and how she ran her business.

3. Lean on your community

Suzanne’s name came to me via a colleague who I trusted already, because she’d been on my team for years. Personal recommendations go a long way to helping us know if someone’s who they say they are. Of course, someone else’s experience is no guarantee that yours will be the same, but if you’re considering a new hire, or wondering about a romantic partner, chatting to an objective third party who knows them already can be incredibly helpful.

4. The internet can help us trust

We might be wary of meeting fraudsters on the internet, but it can also be our friend when we’re deciding whether or not we can trust someone. The first thing to remember is that not everyone online is who they say they are. (At One of many we manage a community of thousands, and there’s no way we could “vet” everyone who wanted to join us.)

But the internet also means it’s fairly easy to get a snapshot of who someone is, from a variety of different sources. “Due diligence” means, essentially, doing your homework. A quick google search on someone (married and maiden names!) can be a great step towards peace of mind. When I googled Suzanne it was quickly apparently that she was well respected in her industry, had a professional website, and was indeed a qualified lawyer. Other due diligence might involve contacting someone who’s worked with the person and asking for their honest review, or asking them to provide you with references.

5. Trust your instincts

Someone who’s genuinely trustworthy in any realm is unlikely to be offended if you explain you want to be sure before committing your time, money or emotions to them. If things feel like they’re moving too fast; if your concerns are being brushed under the carpet or if there’s something that just “doesn’t feel right”, it’s time to take stock. It can be helpful to talk through your concerns with someone you do trust, to get an objective perspective, especially when there’s lots at stake.

How about you? Do you have any red flags that tell you when someone’s not quite who they say they are – or things that tell you it’s fine to go ahead? Without naming any names, do share your wisdom in the comments below.

Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
We believe real leadership is less about skill, and more about having a well of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual strength to draw on. Every week we support thousands of grassroots leaders globally with our free articles, videos and online trainings with powerful tools and methodologies created BY women FOR women.
Become One of many™ women creating strong, meaningful connections in our community.