5 Proven Ways to Build Trust — and Your Reputation — for a Successful Career
Over the past few weeks, our career strategy team has been busy sharing research, words of wisdom and webinars on the “new fundamentals for career success.” We do this because we’re committed to our members’ success and happiness. When they win, we win. And in order to stay ahead and win big in the career game, these fundamentals, which include resilience and relationships, matter a whole lot. This week, I pick up where we left off, with the third piece to the puzzle — reputation — and why trust is so integral to it all.
Your personal brand is an expression of your reputation. It’s essentially how the world sees you. Even better — It’s completely within your control. Whether you’re an innovative thinker, a results-driven project manager, or something else entirely, you have the power to create and manage your brand at every step of your career.
The secret? Building your personal brand isn’t about having a fancy degree, a big job title, or brand-name employers on your resume—though those things can certainly help. Instead, your personal brand and the reputation it brings to light are built on trust. Stephen Covey, renowned author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, calls trust “the glue of life” and the “foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
That’s powerful stuff.
The relationship between trust and your reputation is inextricable. Trust and the power it embodies are reflected through your competence, character, and influence you have among key stakeholders – in short – your reputation.
Building trust in the workplace is invaluable to a successful career and fulfilling relationships. Once you learn how to build trust, you’ll enhance your reputation and increase your ability to influence decision makers at your organization.
It seems fundamental, right? You probably understand the importance of not taking credit for other people’s work or telling your managers the truth about a project’s status. But, there’s more to building trust than you think.
Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe, authors of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, have studied the components of trust and have come up with The Trust Quotient (TQ) assessment, a “tool for defining and measuring personal trustworthiness.”
Their theory is that if you can define and measure trust, you can manage it. The TQ assessment is based on their Trust Equation: Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy / Self-Orientation = Trustworthiness. In essence, trust can enable anyone to become a leader, because it can be learned and improved upon. Let’s explore a little more of what goes into each of these components:
– Credibility. Green and Howe describe this as your credentials and mastery of skills. To reinforce your credibility, you way want to become an expert in your field, communicate with self-assurance, and openly admit lack of knowledge when faced with a question you can’t answer.
– Reliability. Are you predictable and consistent? This is one of the most important components, according to the authors. Though some surprises are fun—think: birthday presents and snow days—most people want to know what they can expect from you, and be assured you’ll deliver, every time. Think about ways to communicate when you fall behind, make promises only on things you can deliver on time, and set clear expectations up front whenever you take on a new task.
– Intimacy. Building trust involves opening up and sharing information about yourself. People are more apt to trust you when they feel like they know you. In other words, you have to take risks in your relationships, but when you deepen relationship bonds, you can mitigate those risks.
– Self-Orientation. Do you focus more on yourself or on others? Green and Howe advocate for an outward focus. Put your attention on others, and you’ll create more trusting relationships.
Developing trust-building skills
When it comes to reputation management, understanding the components of trust is only half the battle. Taking simple actions every day to boost your reputation as a trustworthy person in the workplace is important. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Listen more. One of the best ways to engender trust is to talk less and listen more. People want to be heard. When you listen carefully to what your colleagues have to say, empathize with them, and then ask questions, it shows you care. You’ll further that crucial intimacy, and thus improve trust.
2. Partner up. Look for opportunities to collaborate with others, from pitching in on a big project to asking for guidance on a new client to mentoring a new hire. You’ll reduce competition, improve results, and demonstrate your credibility and expertise.
3. Improvise. Unpredictable moments provide valuable opportunities to build trust at work. For instance, practice saying “Yes, and …” instead of “Yes, but…” when you’re unexpectedly given tasks. People will appreciate your reliability and see you as someone they can trust in stressful times.
4. Take risks. Trust and risk-taking go hand-in-hand. Sure, it can be risky to say what you really think, but having the courage to acknowledge uncomfortable situations honestly and politely, or to tactfully deliver hard news, can enhance your reputation. When people know that you speak the truth, even when it’s difficult, relationships can thrive.
5. Know yourself. Part of being trustworthy is being real. By acknowledging your strengths and your blind spots, you present your most authentic self and make room for others to do the same. The result? Stronger, deeper relationships.
Managing your reputation is a 24/7 job. Put trust at the core of your efforts and you’ll not only build a reputation you can be proud of, but you’ll also create a launch pad for increasing your influence and advancing your career.
Our career strategy team is committed to providing our members with the fundamentals needed to realize success and happiness at work. To use the resources and services our team provides, take the first step now. You can also head over to SoFi’s webinar playlist on YouTube for recordings on several important career topics, including more on personal branding.