The way we network and socialize is changing at a rapid rate. Many of us do not use the phone as a primary method of communication anymore. We use; email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and online photo albums so full of pictures that it makes one feel as though we were right there. Our sources of information have moved out of the libraries of yesterday and into the myriad of Internet web sites. Even our local news has jumped out of the paper and onto interactive sites on the Web. Our world is becoming virtual as we race to contain it.
How has all of this technology changed the way we create and maintain business relationships? It used to be that most of our human contact was face to face. With globalization, it is not as efficient or cost effective compared to the electronic methods of today. So, how do we build trust in a relationship without the familiar face behind the words? Have we lost something in not being able to determine if the information we are getting is accurate without being able to read the deliverer’s face and shake their hand? Indeed, were we ever safe from believing inaccurate information from very likable people?
My theory is that it is still a “buyer beware” world and that only the delivery method has changed, e.g. electronic verses in person. People making product and service claims are still suspicious until proven otherwise.
How does one define trust today? I conducted my own opinion poll of people and asked them the question, “Do you feel you should have tried and been satisfied with a person’s product or service before recommending them to another person?” To my surprise, the majority of response was “no.” The reason behind that was even more surprising. It was felt that there is not enough time to get to know and try the products and services of people we are attempting to network with. Therefore, if they were recommended by a trusted someone else as being reputable, that is good enough to recommend them to others. Further, their research would stop right there unless they were going to purchase the product or service themselves. In that case, they would obtain more information, such as; credentials, present clients, years in business, professional organizations, licenses, etc.
As a result, people are confused as to what to believe as in; web site content, testimonials, recommendations, posted profile employment histories and educational backgrounds all cannot be easily verified without significant effort.
What is the bottom line in building trust in social media? It still pays to take the time to develop quality contacts in your network, rather than quantity. We may be able to reach many more people electronically than we ever could in person, but we still have to develop a relationship. That does not happen with one click of the mouse.
Developing a trusted business relationship can be as easy as interacting with people by using social media to: (1) ask questions about something they are involved with that would demonstrate their expertise. (2) View their posted profiles and examine how active they are in their field. (3) Observe who their associations are and read about them. These activities quantify information based on evidence . Consequently, we have to be selective in who we have in our top group of 50 people whom we highly recommend. The more we know about them, the more confidence we have in making a quality decision in trusting them for ourselves and in recommending them to others. Your network will thank you for your diligence!
Bear in mind that social media is a murky world of both good and bad elements and one must exercise caution before making friends with new people here as its difficult to tell which one is genuine and which are fake accounts. Instagram is one such sphere in this regard that is relatively safe compared to other mediums. Automatic & instant delivered instagram likes have to be taken with a pinch of salt as they are most often a lure by hackers and predators.