191 FS Establishing Trust with Your Clients

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02:48 - What is trust and why do we care about it?

06:21 - Establishing Trust with New Clients

  • Asynchronous Interactions and Synchronous Interactions

18:20 - Maintaining Trust with New Clients (Engagement)

25:58 - Establishing Trust Remotely and Physically

  • Small Talk

38:59 - Measuring Trust

42:56 - Big TakeawaysPicks

Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl (Philip)The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister (Jonathan)Trust Fractures: How Hourly Billing Hurts Software Projects (Jonathan)How to Prevent Scope Creep (Jonathan)The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers by Tom Standage (Reuven)Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War Paperback by Tom Wheeler (Reuven)


[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities, they cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collections and prefund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you a $2,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $4,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow.]**[This episode is sponsored by Nirdhost.com. Do you wish that somebody else would handle all of those operation details when it comes to hosting your client’s web applications? Nirdhost.com is a Ruby on Rails managed hosting designed to make your life easy. They migrate everything for you, and new sign ups referrals come with a $100 discount or referral fee. 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It’s crazy that we’ve moved everything we do for the business over to the digital world but still need to pick up, sort and manage physical mail. With Earth Class Mail, you can get all of your mails scanned and accessible online 24/7. You can search your mail, send invoices over to your accounting software, sync important documents into cloud storage, deposits checks and really just make running your business a whole lot easier. You also get real professional address to share publicly with customers, business partners and investors, and you’ll never need to worry about someone showing up at your door if you run your business from home. Now, I've checked out Earth Class Mail and I think it’s a brilliant solution that’s perfect for businesses and independent entrepreneurs of all types. Visit freelancersshow.com/mail and you’ll get your first month of service free when you sign up.] **REUVEN: Hi everyone and welcome to episode 191 of The Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello. REUVEN: And Philip Morgan PHILIP: Greetings. REUVEN: And I’m Reuven Lerner. And this week, we are going to be talking about trust, and specifically how do you establish and maintain trust with your clients. So let’s start with the general question, which is what is trust and why do we care about it? JONATHAN: Ooh, I wasn’t expecting that [inaudible]. [Chuckles] PHILIP: [Inaudible][chuckles]. JONATHAN: I've got a great answer for – I think I have a perfect answer for that. Trust is what we sell. REUVEN: Oh ok. Ok, that’s good. That’s good. PHILIP: That’s a circular definition [chuckles]. JONATHAN: The amount of money that you can charge for your services, especially if they're what I would consider true consulting services where you're giving people advice, is directly proportional to how much the person trusts that you're right. And if you're not doing traditional consulting, then – and you're doing, say, software development, the trust is in your ability to actually deliver what you say you're going to deliver. And if they don’t trust you that you can do that, their risk is going to be – their sense of [inaudible] is going to be super high, and therefore they are not going to pay you as much. PHILIP: I think that’s absolutely right. I think there's some sort of qualities that trust has like there's the kind of trust that you feel when you sit down on a chair and you know it’s going to hold together, and I think that comes from like “well, it’s never not worked in the past”, so there's that kind of relief that the track record is going to repeat itself in the future. And I think there's also another quality of like a more emotional aspect to trust wherein someone is like “yeah, I don’t doubt at all that they're going to do the right thing for this situation or for me or for the relationship”. I think there's an emotional quality that is easy to ignore that I think is important. JONATHAN: It’s about dependability and predictability. PHILIP: Yeah, very much so. REUVEN: And also, I think putting their interest – I don’t know at first, but at least considering their interests. How often have we heard and – Jonathan, you speak to this a lot when you talk about hourly billing versus value-based pricing, but if I go into a client and I suggest the solution, they want to know that I am suggesting it because that’s what's best for them; that’s what's going to move them ahead, not because “oh, I can squeeze more hours out of this because I’ll get paid more because this is the only solution I know”. [Inaudible] have the hammer, everything was like a nail sort of thing. But when you say “you know, I think that there's something that could work, and yet I don’t know that much about it. Let’s work on it together because I think that might be the best solution”. I think they want you to see that you're thinking about them and not just you. JONATHAN: Yes. So I guess another way to look at it is trust decreases the sense of risk. If your financial incentives are aligned, then it’s going to automatically generate trust. If your incentives are misaligned, then it’s not going to automatically generate trust, or it’s going to create a potential for a suspicion on the client’s part that you might not be working as fast as you could be since your financial incentivized to take longer. Even though you might be a hundred percent honest and [inaudible] and ethical, and literally everyone I've ever worked with or I’d coach on this fits into that category; people aren’t [inaudible] their hours, they're not lying about it, but the financial incentives are – if they're not aligned, it’s going to be very difficult to prevent that sneaking suspicion from entering the clients’ mind if you get to a point where you're over-budget. And maybe their jobs is on the line, they start to get nervous, and it’s like they turn into the Incredible Hulk [chuckles]. REUVEN: Ok. So given that trust is what we sell, trust is what we can use to get higher rates or get paid at all, so how do we establish that? Let’s say you’ve got a new client, a new potential client, someone contacts you; is that a point when you want to or have to establish trust, and if so, how do you do it? JONATHAN: Yes, definitely. I think so. At least for what I do, which again, is pretty much pure consulting; I’m not doing any software development anymore, but I’m mostly managing those sites for processes. And from the very first contact, I am cognizant of things like keeping my promises. If I say I’m going to call you back on a particular date, I make sure to do it; or email back on a particular date, I make sure to do it. If I don’t do it, then I know that I am damaging even in this very tiny way – they might not even notice, but if they do in a very tiny way I didn’t do what I say I was going to do, and if I can’t even call them back on a particular date that I said I would, then what's going to happen when the mud is hitting the fan, so to speak. So I think that, yes, every single interaction is an opportunity for you to build more trust, and in a very early stage of a relationship, I do that by keeping promises, even very small ones. I do it by making small promises and then keeping them. I make the promises on purpose. And then another thing I’ll do once we – let’s say finally go on a phone and we’re actually talking about the project, I will, [inaudible] before, I will try and talk them out of working with me or I’ll at least force them to validate to me that I am good solution to the situation that they’re in. And that means pushing back on their self-diagnosis or their preconceived notions about things that fall under my expertise, not theirs. So I will test their hypothesis, and if it turns out at the end of an hour-long phone call that I think that I’m not really the right solution, and in fact they should just use their in-house team or some [inaudible] or something, then I’ll do that. Then I think it’s a huge trust builder when you're talking to someone who’s clearly considering giving you money and you're refusing it, or at least not just blindly accepting it. For me that’s been a gigantic trust builder in that stage of the relationship where you're still trying to potentially [inaudible]. REUVEN: For sure. I was contacted on Skype on Saturday night by this guy I've never heard of before saying “listen, I need some help with Python. Maybe you can help me out”, and we spoke a little bit on Sunday. And at the end of the conversation, I said “listen, I don’t think I’m really going to be able to help you out. We’re just not in that right space, and we don’t really have time right now”. He said “wow. I’m so grateful that you were so straightforward and honest with me. If we can work together in the future, I really want to do that”. Now, all I told him was I cannot work with him, but the fact that I was not just saying “yes, yes, yes. Let me see how I can squeeze you into my schedule, because the more money the better”, that was a huge positive. JONATHAN: Nodding. [Chuckles] PHILIP: I think that building trust can start even further back on the timeline of the relationship with a client. I think it can start even before you’ve had that first phone conversation or that first email exchange. To me – of course I’m the marketer in the room so I’m talking about how you do that through your marketing. And I think it’s worth thinking about how can you start to build up trust through your marketing. I've started to say that really, any kind of marketing that I do is meant to optimize that trust building; to build as much trust as quickly and as effectively as possible early on. The case studies are one way people try to do that. That might be an interesting sub-topic to talk about. And I think case studies are so interesting because it should be inherently untrustworthy because who’s writing the case study? It’s – the client is writing it about a project that – sorry, you're writing about a project you did for a previous client, or you're hiring somebody to write it for you. And that would be not admissible testimony in court [chuckles], right? You're kind of just saying “well, just believe me”. But yet, that tool gets relied upon a lot for trying to build trust before you make the sale or before you have that sales conversation. So I think it’s interesting. I don’t really have a solution to that, but that, to me, is an interesting thing that people should consider when they're trying to build trust, is are the tools that you're using in your marketing the right tools for building trust. REUVEN: I definitely found one of the interesting things I discovered in my mailing list and doing my webinars is they definitely build in trust. People are growing to know my style. If they don’t like it, they tend to leave. So in many ways, it’s a self-selecting group, but that’s ok for everyone; it’s good for everyone. But the email that I get from people is definitely one of they know me – I don’t want to say in generally, but more than just some random person off of the internet. And the more that I give them that warm fuzzy feeling through writing, through videos, through interactions – interactions; you know what, I think the key thing is interactions there. The more they're interacting with me, and the more they stick with me, the more they're going to trust me, and then want to be more with me in the future. PHILIP: Yeah. You need more than one opportunity to build that trust, right? REUVEN: Absolutely, absolutely. One email might do it, but it’s unlikely. And actually, just in the last week from the last messages sent to my mailing list, I got a bunch of people saying “I like what you wrote. I previously read your things here” or “I previously saw your things there”. So they are drawing a direct association, even though they’ve never emailed me, I never would’ve heard of them. But for their perspective, they’ve now heard me or read my work a second, a third or fourth time, and that’s put them over to the edge toward “hey, let’s contact him and make it a two-way street”. JONATHAN: Yeah. That actually brings up a point that I put down on my notes before the show, which is asymmetric interaction and symmetric interactions. So what you're describing is sort of a broadcast that a bunch of blog posts or email – email’s maybe a little bit in the middle because people can reply. If you have comments in your blog, maybe you could consider it bidirectional, but it’s not symmetric. So if you're having – if you're having – or I should – I don’t know if that’s the right word; maybe I should be saying synchronous – asynchronous and synchronous. But regardless, the point is that if you're having a one-to-one interaction with someone, that is going to be almost certainly a better way or a quicker more effective way to build trust more quickly than a one-to-many type of situation. And then – so that’s one access I would consider. And the other access I would consider is the media or the medium that you're using for that communication. So if we have like a double access chart, an in-person one-to-one interaction has got to be the most likely place to build trust in the same information communicated over email in a one-to-many fashion is in the opposite quadrant. So the least likely or the slowest to build interaction – trust. And then you’ve got this other factors sort of third-dimension, which is what messages that you're communicating that if you're – if I’m communicating – in any of those factors, if I’m communicating information that’s all about me and trying to do anything to land a job, and I’m breaking promises like crazy, then it’s still not going to build trust even if I’m doing it in-person. But if you're doing things like trying to talk them out of working with you, giving them better cheaper options that might fit the bill, then you're more likely to be building trust [inaudible] – I guess the intensity or speed at which it happens is affected by the number of people involved and the medium you're using. That’s been my experience anyway. I think I just came up with the next graph for Philip, so [inaudible][chuckles]. PHILIP: Yeah. Actually, that’s funny. I started working on that this morning. I call it the trust velocity. I think it works best as a scatter plot. So on the one dimension, you have how quickly does it build trust, and on the other, how much trust does that thing build: talking or sending out an email to your list or what have you. I think it does make for a pretty interesting way of surveying all of the things you could be doing to build trust and maybe isolating the 2 or 3 that are right for you. JONATHAN: Yeah. So if you imagine that got a particular – let’s say you have one particular message and you want to communicate it in a way that’s going to generate the most trust than – because you could deliver the same message in a bunch of different ways than you could say ok for certain situations than – for a well-qualified lead, then picking up the phone is definitely the way to go. If it’s not a qualified lead, then probably a mailing list might be a good way to go, or a podcast like this where you got a broadcast situation, so it’s not synchronous, it’s not two-way, but people are at least are hearing your voice, which I think is much more intimate than reading words written on a page. REUVEN: Yes. JONATHAN: [Inaudible] pretty [inaudible] lot of factors involved. PHILIP: You really are. I think one of the interesting things about this is that let’s say there are a hundred ways that you could build trust with the kind of clients you're trying to attract. I would say that you don’t want to just focus on one, and you don’t want to try all 100, you want to pick a manageable number, and some of them should be, I think, the kind of things that build trust, a lot of trust quickly. Maybe that’s enough, but I think it’s good to have some diversity. We've talked about before on the show how public speaking builds a lot of trust real fast if you don’t screw it up and if you got a few things right. But I think that’s – it’s good to not just have that one strategy even though it seems to be like the one that does the most in the shortest amount of time. From a marketing perspective, you're letting things fall through the cracks if that’s your only strategy. It’s good to mix in some that build trust more slowly over a longer time horizon, maybe. JONATHAN: Sure. Not least of which because different people consume information differently, but also, doing speaking gigs doesn’t scale at all. It’s a very very time consuming – it’s at a very high cost. Even if you're getting paid, you have to travel around a lot, it’s extremely disruptive, so having some other approaches that scale better in or maybe more – maybe are going to get to an audience that prefers to get their information a different format. It makes a lot of sense. PHILIP: Yeah. REUVEN: All the things that we've been saying, by the way, the – it seems that they all can apply to someone at whatever stage of consulting they're at. You can totally be new and just hang out your shingle this morning and already start to do all of these things, or at least some of these things, whether it’s the marketing material you present or the ways in which you contact people, or when someone contacts you, the way you talk to them. This is not just something for people who are established, although obviously, I have to assume that the more you're out there and the longer you’ve been in business – that’s why all these companies stay “since 1845, we've been providing this” because they're also trying to build trust. “We've been good enough to survive for that long, we’re probably good enough for you.” PHILIP: Yeah, absolutely. Although I want to add on to that by saying if you're brand new and starting out, you're likely to have the mindset that you haven’t proven yourself and you're likely to have a lot of doubt. And I think that those are things that should not stand in your way of doing what you can to build trust. This is very common to think “well, I’m new at this. I don’t have a track record so I guess that means I’m screwed”, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think you can build trust even without having an extensive track record. REUVEN: Mm-hm. So let’s move a little into the past – this is before people contact you, and then contact you. So you start an engagement with a client; now, the key thing is not to establish trust, but to maintain it, or to convince them that they made the right decision. They weren’t idiots for hiring you. They're not wasting their money. So what things can you do during the engagement? Because obviously we want to have return engagements and have them keep coming back to us again and again for different things. So what can we do in order to encourage that? JONATHAN: I think you do the same things, but you want to be sensitive to the potential for that post-purchase buyer’s remorse danger zone, because it can [inaudible] the whole project if you do something sub-par right after the project starts. So for – it’s tempting – in my situation, it can be tempting to – you're pitching a client, you get the gig, I ask for a hundred percent payment upfront, so for me it’s like a major touchdown when I get a new client. It’s like “yahoo!”, but really the work has just began, and there's potential that – you know what buyer’s remorse is. They might just be like “oh, what have I done? How did he – he swayed me under a spell somehow. And I sent him this giant cheque.” The last thing you want to do is encourage that line of thinking by missing your first meeting, or being late for your first meeting, or showing up in jeans or some inappropriate outfit. It’s not the time to relax. Right after the deal closes is the worst time to relax, in my opinion, and you definitely want to be top of your game, top presentation, everything. You want to communicate – I think a big thing throughout the course of a project is communicate like crazy; communicate probably more than you think you need to. And just really be sensitive to that first week or two after a project kicks off that you want to absolutely nail everything, dot your I’s and cross your T’s, just to get them over that hump. And then once you get into a rhythm, people are going to be so much more comfortable; and you've probably have spoken with other people in the team, and the project contact who may be the only person that you’ve spoken with throughout the entire lead up to the sale. Maybe that first meeting you have is the first meeting with the entire team. So imagine being late for that, or not showing or whatever, that would be really bad because now you're making your project contact, who is the one who trusts you, look foolish in front of his or her peers. Or worst case scenario, their bosses. So anyway, that period right after the sale is critical to nail. REUVEN: Yeah. You're reminding me now of I had something – I guess it was about 6 or 8 months ago where a big company called me and want to give some training to their technical writers. And I knew someone who worked there. Someone at the company had suggested that they pull me in to do this. He’s not only a friend from where I live, but also had seen me speak at a few conferences for technical writers where I talked about some technical stuff. So it was just the worst combination of traffic and parking, and of course I discovered I didn’t have their phone number. And so I walk in there, it must have been like 15 minutes late after I’ve been desperately trying to find them, I think I managed to find my friend’s phone number and SMS him and say “I’m going to be late. I'm really horribly sorry”, but you could see on their faces. I walk in there and they're thinking “what is going on? Who is this guy?” And of course, the other thing is I didn’t realize who I was going to be meeting with. I just thought I was meeting my friend and maybe one other person, but they actually invited like 5 or 6 other people to meet with me as well. So I was wasting a lot of people’s time. And I felt pretty bad about that and apologized profusely. It went off well in the end, but I definitely felt the responsibility to make up for a lot of foolishness-seeming as a result of that first interaction. PHILIP: Mm, ouch [chuckles]. REUVEN: They gave me [inaudible] anyway. It’s ok. [Laughter] PHILIP: I got you on the back end. [Laughter]. Yeah, I think it comes down to communication, for sure. Another thing to me that can be corrosive to the trust that you’ve built up is making clients wait a long time to see results. I imagine this is doubly, so if they’ve paid you upfront, I don’t like to see a lot of time between money changing hands and some kind of tangible result. I try to [crosstalk]. JONATHAN: [Inaudible] getting points on the board. PHILIP: Oh nice, yeah. I definitely have adapted how I do things. That’s part of what I like about working on a weekly basis with clients is usually it’s just a few days before they see something tangible, which I think really helps. JONATHAN: Agreed. [Inaudible] on the board ASAP. It’s the same sort of thing, that sensitive period right after money changes hands, you really want to be scoring. REUVEN: Right. And part because you want to show that you're giving them the kinds of quality, the kinds of service they had paid for, and part because you want to surprise them. “Oh wow, they’ve already gotten back to me with this”. I found that sometimes if I can’t get results to people soon is often – and this might be completely transparent, but I hope it’s not, and I hope they're not listening, but to send some questions to them; increasing interactions and try to set up a phone call. So they can tell that I am engaged, they can tell I’m working on it even if I haven’t gotten them any results yet. PHILIP: Yeah, for sure. Even if you have to structure something a little bit artificial into the project to make that happen; I think that’s definitely worth thinking about. REUVEN: Philip, you said you had some ideas [inaudible] during the engagement about before and maybe other time periods. What do you think of that? PHILIP: I have this idea that in the absence of certain sensory input that would normally increase or potentially increase somebody’s trust in you, like they can look in your eyes and see if you're lying; that’s a big one. And in the absence of that, I think that people try to substitute other things as a way to assess whether someone is trustworthy. So one of the things I think that gets substituted is regularity, and that’s why I’m quickly becoming a fan of at least an email marketing, emailing frequently and regularly and consistently. I think that becomes a proxy by which people start to measure your trustworthiness, like “wow, if they can do this thing that nobody else seems to be able to do, which is to show up in my inbox on a regular basis – I can’t see in their eyes to see if they're trustworthy, I can’t hear their tone of voice, but I can judge them based on this criteria”. So I think it’s worth thinking about for however it is that you market yourself. What are the ways in which a client determines if you're trustworthy? And try to optimize for those things, whatever they are, whether they're showing up regularly, whether they're only sending a 5,000-word or longer article, which I think is what Patrick McKenzie decided at some point. How people were going to trust him was every time he wrote something, he was going to bring it. So I just think it’s worth thinking about. How do your clients assess whether you're trustworthy? And whatever it is, do more of that or do a better job of that. REUVEN: Your point about being able to look into people’s eyes and so forth is especially relevant because so many of us are working remotely. Now, a lot of my work and my actual work day to day is in-person because I’m training people typically in person. That’s like 90% of it, 80% of it. But I still have remote clients with whom I work, and it’s a definitely different dynamic. And I definitely feel that I need to push harder on the communication probably more than I do now so that they’ll see that I’m around. Even simple things like just nodding heads and looking into their eyes, it really does make a difference. PHILIP: Right, those body language signals. So here’s a question, Reuven, for you. So you walk into – let’s say you walk into a classroom and you’ve got half a dozen or a dozen students there and they're meeting you for the first time. How do you gain their trust in that situation? I think however you do that, we probably can take some lessons from that. REUVEN: That’s a really good question. So the way it typically works is I’ll get into a company and – it’s a new company, let’s say; or you know what, even existing companies, it’s going to be a new group or I don’t necessarily know the students. The training manager usually brings me there; at least in theory they bring me there, and I might have had some interactions with them before. So there's a little bit of a bridge there. But then they leave, and they leave me in the training room waiting for people to come in. So I’ll chat with them a little bit as they come in, but I think the real point when the trust starts to happen and when I start to have interactions is when I introduce myself. And I tell them a little bit about myself and my history, and then we go around the room, and I ask everyone what is their name and why are they here. I sometimes make a little joke like “aside from the boss telling you you must show up”. And what’s you background, and what do you hope to get out of this? And you could make a good argument that it’s a waste of 15, 20 minutes as we go around, but no one’s ever complained about this. And for me, it’s gold because it allows me to interact with them. And I can sometimes ask them follow-up questions as it were like “oh, you did this, you did that; that’s really interesting. And how did you do this in your work”. And they begin to understand that I’m interested in pushing them ahead in their work and helping their careers, not just come, teach, and go away. The funny thing is I learned this technique from the training company that I’d worked for during my – what they called my screen test. So I went there to practice or get a tested for being a trainer, and I did it for one person. She was the director of training there, and she said “ok, I’m in the audience. Pretend you're starting your training. Go”. And I just said “hi, I’m Reuven” and then I started to get into it. Afterwards she said “boy, that was terrible”. She didn’t want to hire me. Other people did convince her, but she said “at the very least, go around the room and find out who’s there”. And I thought of doing it, but it was just one person; it didn’t make any difference. And since she said that, I've done it every time, and I really feel like it’s been worth a ton, both that I can use right then, and [inaudible] trust there, and information I can use later on. Because then I can say, even a day later, “oh, I remember someone who said that you used to use Perl. This is where Python is similar to a Perl”. And that helps them understand I’m on their side and remembering who they are. PHILIP: Here's what I take away from that. It would be tempting to think the best way to build trust in a situation like that when you're drop parachuting in cold to a group of people is to ball them over with your credentials, like really impress them with your depth of experience and yada yada. But what I hear you saying is it’s much more effective to show an interest in them and ask the right questions. That, at least, is an essential ingredient, and maybe it’s the most important ingredient in that situation. REUVEN: Yeah, because it’s what's – I think you're right because on no small number of occasions, people have come to me at the end of the course and said “wow, we really like this [inaudible]. Tell us, do you do consulting?” which means that they completely ignored what I said at the beginning which is written on the slides and I mentioned it, and basically, they are not interested in hearing about my credentials because I think they figure anyone who showed up probably knows what they're doing to some degree or another. But giving them a chance to express themselves makes it more interesting to them because I’m skin in the game. PHILIP: I think it shows to them that you're not needy. You're not hustling for scraps of work that you can just pick up by badgering people into hiring you. You're confident. You're there to give and be a source of information not to take from them. And I think that does a lot to increase trust. REUVEN: Yes. JONATHAN: I totally [inaudible] all of this for – especially for any kind of workshop or training class or even a speaking engagement where it’s not as – was an educational [inaudible] – what I’m trying to say is it’s like a little bit more stage on stage, like I’m going to come up and try and broaden your thinking about the future of technologies, something like that, where there's not a workbook or something. And in those situations, I do a very similar thing where I – as people are filing in at the beginning, I’ll take some of those brave souls who sat in the front row and ask them their name, ask them where they're from, ask them why they picked my talk over all the other ones that are going on, and it makes a lot of – it just helps me on stage. I can relate to a couple of people. I can say things like “you know [inaudible] is there a couple of people here who are interested in boom, X, Y, Z” and you make eye contact with them, and they nod back at you and stuff, and it’s super powerful. I think that it’s really really a lot better than being that kind of on a sailboat potentially arrogant know-it-all that just lasts through a gigantic CV of how awesome they are. But the whole thing reminds me of a different scenario where you're in a client meeting, which is probably more common for me where I've got this – get that 5 minutes at the beginning of a meeting where people are still shuffling papers and coming in, but it’s a – whether it’s a virtual call or in-person. And when I was younger, the small talk talking about the weather and things like that at the beginning of those meetings used to drive me insane. I thought that was a silly waste of time and we should just get down to business, and I was like that jerk that would be – cut somebody off in the middle of the thing and just be like “ok, here's the agenda”. And I don’t remember where I read it, but I read somewhere that that sort of talking about the weather at the beginning is a critical piece of gaining trust, getting to know each other, and it’s not just dopey waste of time or people stalling or whatever. It’s actually quite valuable to the relationship. And once I got over that naïve opinion and I saw it for what it was, I was like “it’s a hundred percent on the money”. I wish I knew where I read it because whoever wrote it was a hundred percent right. PHILIP: Probably these manners, right? [Inaudible][laughter]. Related to that, I used to be afraid to ask clients about how their business was going. I put myself voluntarily, out of fear or inexperience or both, just put myself in the higher hand category. And what I found since then is that it’s not that hard to promote yourself out of that category by starting to ask what at first be like very nosy questions, like “how’s your business going?” is just absolutely [inaudible] one to ask. And another one would be like “so, what are your business priorities for the next quarter? What are the big [inaudible] you're trying to move?” Stuff like that is so easy to deploy in that early on chit chat part of a meeting, and I think it increases trust because you are – you're simply – you're implying that “you know what, you can tell me this stuff. I’m worthy of knowing that information and I’m worthy of being trusted with that information”. So I guess what I’m saying is that part of building trust just comes from positioning yourself as trustworthy. Sorry that got a little messy and [inaudible] there, but yeah, I think that’s part of it too. It’s not you project to the world that you're worthy of trust is what I’m really trying to say. JONATHAN: Yeah. You're honest and being interesting. I've never thought about this explicitly, but I think you're right on the money. If you ask a question that has a sensitive answer, just very confidently and calmly like “I’m here to answer questions that are like this”. It’s like you wouldn’t ask a stranger a personal question necessarily, but you might ask – the closer you are with someone, the more personal the question would be. And it’s like [inaudible] related to that where you're saying by asking the question that you can be trusted with that kind of data, and that it’s a totally normal thing for people to trust you with. Like your doctor, I don’t really know my doctor that well, but he asks me some pretty personal questions [chuckles]. And it’s just an – it has a lot to do with the delivery though. You can’t force this stuff. It needs to be – this is going to sound really trite, but it needs to be from a genuine place. You need to really be asking that question for a good reason and be able to take the resulting information and turn it into something valuable. It might happen during the small talk phase, but that’s not small talk. That’s important like value conversation type of stuff. PHILIP: It is. The doctor example, to me, says what you need to do is it’s deliberate in a matter of fact way. It’s like no one asks about my prostate except the doctor, right [chuckles]? REUVEN: I hope not. PHILIP: [Inaudible] because it’s part of the job. And to me, that’s an example of it’s just a matter of fact thing. He just needs to know so he can deliver an effective diagnosis. JONATHAN: Yeah. That’s a good parallel. I love the doctor analogy for that kind of work. I’d like to see more freelancers doing where it’s just partnering and not just being a pair of hands that cranks up code or typography or whatever. REUVEN: I don’t think I've ever gone so far as to ask like how business is going, but I often ask if it’s like a non – actually even my training clients, if we’re having lunch together or – I’ll say like “how many people work here? What sort of work do you do? What kind of projects are you working on?” And it helps you both to get a better sense of what the business is doing and how I can aim my work with his consulting or training or development. But also, it gives me a sense of “ok, are talking about a 20-person company, a 200-person company, a 200-person branch of a 20,000-person company, because it’s not always obvious. And you're just getting them – and also, I’m fascinated by hardware and manufacturing because I’m so clumsy and not good at doing it. And so I’m in awe of these companies that make hardware. And I’m always asking them “oh, how did you do this, how did you do that”. And it’s partly just selfish curiosity. And partly, I really think that if I learn more about how they do things, I can give them more effective service. And I think that they realize that and they're willing to share it. JONATHAN: Yeah. You're just being super genuine. And people’s BS detectors are extremely well calibrated, and if you – even if you did something like – even if you came in like “oh, it wouldn’t be professional for me to ask all these prying questions about stuff that’s maybe orthogonal to what we’re supposed to be working on, so I’ll just be professional and stick to the script” sort of thing. I don’t like – I don’t recommend that people do that, like try to be professional. It’s a fine line, though, isn't it? I think you need to be yourself, but you need to be in a mode that’s appropriate to the situation, but not to the point where you're [inaudible] yourself, if that made sense. So you don’t want to be pretending to be something you're not, that’s for sure. You also don’t want to treat a client meeting like you're in a locker room, obviously. So it’s a sense of appropriateness is important, but not to the point where you're pretending to be putting on a role that’s uncomfortable for you, because then it’s just going to – it’s like wearing shoes that don’t fit you; everything’s going to be wrong. [Crosstalk] REUVEN: How often are people asked about their work by someone who is not there who actually cares? JONATHAN: Yeah, I love it. REUVEN: [Chuckles] Because all these people come home from work and they want to talk about it at home and no one, no one could care less [chuckles]. And here you are coming and you actually want to help them out and improve it, but you're an outsider, and that’s I think pretty rare. JONATHAN: In my experience – sorry, just quickly – in my experience, no matter how boring the business sounds on the surface, if you ask two layers deep of questions, you're going to find some really interesting stories. REUVEN: A hundred percent. JONATHAN: If you are genuinely curious, you can find an interesting story just about any business. PHILIP: Oh, I totally agree. You're always going to bring up the question of how do you measure trust? How do you know if person A, client, potential client B trusts you a little or a lot? What do you look for? JONATHAN: Ah, that’s funny. I don’t know if this is quite the answer to the question you're asking, but I can always tell when I’m having a valued conversation with somebody, so this is the moment of truth conversation that you have before I’m going to deliver a proposal, I can always tell when I got the job because they start talking about “we” instead of “you”. REUVEN: Oh, that’s great. JONATHAN: It happens almost every time. PHILIP: Nice. JONATHAN: I should say every time it happens, I get the gig. But really, it’d be something like if they told the joke that I thought was – that I generally thought was hilarious; like they crack a joke near the end of the call, or they do something that’s just more personal. It’s like they do something revealing that’s in a some small way vulnerable. And then you can feel it. You can – man, it’s hard to describe; I’m trying to think back to examples when I've noticed it. Those are the ones that come to mind. PHILIP: Yeah, I noticed potential clients who volunteering information beyond what I ask. And I think that’s a pretty good signal that there's some trust built up already. JONATHAN: Yup. Just sharing. PHILIP: Basically, yeah. Or instead of giving yes/no answers, you get answers that elaborating go deeper. I think that’s a signal that someone trusts you enough to go to the next step, whatever that is. JONATHAN: Yeah. One of the big takeaways – I feel like this is [chuckles] the takeaway from a lot of them – communication [chuckles]. REUVEN: Every week, right? [Chuckles] JONATHAN: Communication. Yeah. REUVEN: Communication, but also genuinely be interested in helping them and communicate that through the communication and though questions, and then being responsive. Once you have that information, either what they want to do or how they want to move ahead, let them know that you’ve understood that not just by saying “uh huh, uh huh, that’s interesting”, but by then doing your job, which is producing reports, setting up meetings, and being a – giving them the value that they think they’ve signed up for. PHILIP: Yeah. Here’s the takeaway for me that – I just apologize; it’s going to be – going to start with a rant. In freelancers circles, it’s quite common to when people start kvetching about stuff, it’s pretty common to hear them say something like nasty dismiss of things about their clients, and I think Jonathan would agree with me here; a lot of the stuff they're complaining about is things that they or other freelancers have trained their clients to do, like “oh yeah, we’ll just pay you in 60 or 90 days or whenever you get around to beating the money out of us” or – that’s a good example. Late payment and –. And not that there aren’t some legitimate aspects to that, but I feel like what happens is it develops an “us versus them” mentality, and how I think that is irrelevant to what we’re saying now is someone’s got to go first. If you want to increase the net total amount of trust in a situation between two people, someone’s got to decide to go first. And Jonathan has mentioned being vulnerable, and I guess what I want to say is you can – you, as the freelancer or the consultant, can decide to go first. It will require that you risk a little bit of vulnerability, and it will mean that sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want, and in absolutely extremely rare cases, you get taken advantage of, but to me, that’s still more of a  reason to go first. Because if you go first, I think you can crank up the trust a lot higher than if you don’t, and to me, that will be very beneficial to almost any freelancer’s career. That’s my takeaway. It’s almost going to go first, and there's lots of little opportunities to go first in very small ways. REUVEN: Any more thoughts or insights before we get into picks? JONATHAN: I just have to put in a plug for against hourly billing on this whole thing. I think billing – committing to a price before a project starts can raise a lot of confidence, and it aligns the financial incentives for both parties, and it makes it a lot easier for trust to grow once the project begins. So it’s not really a show about that, but I think that it’s closely related and when I see that “us versus them” mentality which drives me crazy, I think a lot of times it could be traced back to bad estimates, bad scope definition, hourly – all the stuff related to hourly billing. So yeah, I couldn’t help myself. REUVEN: [Chuckles] That’s fine. PHILIP: Jonathan, you know you can get your name legally changed to Jonathan Anti-Hourly Billing Stark [chuckles]. JONATHAN: [Inaudible]. PHILIP: There you go [chuckles]. REUVEN: [Chuckles] Ok. PHILIP: How about you, Reuven, big takeaways for you. REUVEN: Uhm, again, I think the big takeaways are it’s the communication, it’s the thinking about them, it’s putting them first, and it’s making sure that with everything you do, whether it’s speaking or working or talking or meeting, you're always thinking about “how can I not only get them ahead, but how can I make it clear to them that I want to get them ahead. And their interests are my interest, at least when I’m with them”. And the more obvious you can make that without being outrageous and sort of a fool or not sincere, I think the better for everyone. And I think all of us have found that when we have clients where it’s good for everyone, good for us and good for them, it’s just fantastic for everyone, because they're happy to pay me, and I’m happy to pay, but also happy to be doing the work. And that’s just a situation that’s ideal for everyone, and it just builds on itself then because the trust just grows over time. Today, I give the first day of Postgres class, and it come to me whenever I’m consulting for about a year, a year and a half now, so I keep giving them sort of dribs and drabs of information, and obviously happy to do that, but now we’re getting into “ok, I should teach them to do what I know what to do”. And I wasn’t sure how I was going to go, and I actually think it went great in part because I know that we have a really good rapport, and so things flowed really well and it was half class and half discussion, even I would say a little bit of strategy sessions well. And that would not have been possible if I just walked into the classroom [inaudible]. PHILIP: Nice. REUVEN: Ok let’s get to the picks. Philip, what do you have for us this week? PHILIP: I want to pick a book that is for authors, and the reason I want to do that is because I think it has lots of relevant lessons for freelancers. The book is called Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book. It’s by a guy named Tim Grahl who is, I think, spot on when he – he talks about marketing simply as connecting with people and being helpful. That’s his definition of marketing. And I think that’s also very relevant to freelancers, consultants who want to build up an audience, if you will, of people online who listen to and trust them. I think this is a book that can really give you an easy-to-follow practical way to do that. And it’s also a very short read; it’s like 147 pages, so just a quick easy read. And so that’s my pick for this week. REUVEN: Excellent. Jonathan, do you have any picks for us? JONATHAN: Yes. Well, I had a different pick, but since we went to this topic, I've changed them to, first, a book called The Trusted Advisor by David Maister – I hope I’m saying that right, Maister. And this was a fabulous book given to me by one of my very last bosses when I actually had a job-job, and it was just great. I won’t go into it, but I think that if you're interested in this topic, then The Trusted Advisor is kind of a bible for this thing. And I've got two blog posts on trust that I think people will be interested in. One is Trust Fractures: How Hourly Billing Hurts Software Projects, and How to Prevent Scope Creep when you're not billing by the hour. And both of those are very centered on trust and creating relationships with clients that are based on trust. REUVEN: Oh, that’s great. So I've got two picks this week. We had a discussion before the show started about some origins of words and so forth, and that got me thinking to two books that I read a few years ago that I might have mentioned on the show before, but if you’ve heard about them, then forgive me. So one of them is called The Victorian Internet and it’s by Tom Standage who is just a fantastic author. I've read a bunch of his books; I've loved them. And it’s all about the telegraph. And if you always thought of the telegraph as “oh yeah, that thing – dit dit dit, dat dat dat”, it was an incredible invention, but he doesn’t talk about the technology; he talks about the people and the social stuff. So all the stuff we have nowadays on the internet, they had on the telegraph. They played chess, they had chats, they did weddings; it was a very social environment, all be it with a very limited sector of society, the telegraph operators. He tells the story beautifully and how it evolved into the telephone and some of the personalities and technologies that were involved there. Really really just a fantastic fun read. And then the other one, if I’m already talking about the telegraph, is Mr. Lincoln's TMails: How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War, and it is just – I never knew – I mean I sort of knew in terms of timeline of history that they probably had telegraphs during the Civil War, but that was the first war in history in which the commanders actually found out from the front what was going on in real time, as opposed to waiting days or weeks to find out what happened. And Lincoln as president of the United States, he was hearing in real time what was going on, and making decisions accordingly, and so this lists a whole lot of his telegraph messages, telegrams, and what he wrote, and what he said, and how he reacted to it. Not quite as well written as Tom Standage’s book, but still really really excellent and a fun interesting read, and an interesting contrast to how we communicate today and a lot of this is what [inaudible], a lot of the terms, a lot of the thoughts that we had today, the ways that we approach technology today were very highly influenced by the telegraph even though I don’t think any of us have ever used one in real life. Anyway, that is our show for this week. Thanks to all of you for listening. Thanks to Jonathan and Philip. And we will see you all next week on The Freelancers’ Show.[Hosting and bandwidth is provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN.  Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more.]**

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