Not long ago, a woman contacted me and asked me to come to her house. She had located me on the Internet, and offered to pay me for computer services.
I decided that she probably just needed a computer technician to fix her laptop, that she fully intended to pay me, and that she certainly wasn’t going to re-enact scenes from Misery with me. She had also (rightly) decided that the risk of inviting over a total stranger was outweighed by the benefit, and both client and computer technician benefited in the end.
However, our simple (but potentially risky) transaction could not have occurred without a mutual willingness to put worries aside, or without a shared desire to form a business relationship based on trust.
Issues With Trust
My job at Silverleaf allows me to help people from all walks of life. Nearly everyone has a computer, but few people are tech-savvy, so many folks decide to contact a technician for help at some point in time. In my business, I meet a lot of different people, and I’ve learned that they all have something in common.
What I’ve learned from years of service is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a computer technician, photographer, or lawyer: everybody just wants to work with professionals who are competent, fair, and most important, trustworthy. In other words: nobody wants to get screwed-over.
Trust is essential for any business relationship to flourish, whether it’s between a technician and client, a boss and employee, or myself and a partner. Before any service agreement, warranty, or other legal “guarantee” is written and signed, and before any work begins, all business transactions start with an implied promise: to efficiently deliver a product or service, and to do so in a fair and honest manner.
Business Ethics and Branding
I could be the best computer technician in Los Angeles, relying on skill and technical prowess alone *wink*, but if I can’t gain the trust of my clients and colleagues, I’m finished.
That’s why being skilled in a craft is only one key to success: clearly and honestly advising a client, employee, or partner so that he or she can make an informed decision is an essential way for any professional to earn trust and be successful. This is especially true when working on large, complex projects, when any lapse in communication or trust can result in a significant loss of time/money. Besides, it’s just easier to work with people we trust.
Any significant loss of trust, however, or a reputation for being untrustworthy, can be extremely costly. For example, as a sole proprietor I am 100% liable for doing business under the Silverleaf name. Additionally, any negative impact on trust in Silverleaf directly affects trust in me, so any damage to my brand is especially costly for me.