In the book I co-authored with Dr. Oudi Abouchacra, “Work Your Network With the 4Cs,” we share that The Four Cs are the foundation for all relationships.
For successful business networking, I believe it is critical to understand each of them. As I shared in BNI Podcast episode 772, the first “C” – Competence, is the primary driver of referrals in a business practice. However, competence alone will not unlock referrals.
The Second “C” is Credibility
People do not refer business to another person unless they feel confident that they are trustworthy. The importance of trustworthiness is closely aligned with our second “C” – Credibility. It is the quality of being believable or worthy of trust. Trust and credibility are so closely related that some people use them synonymously.
Credibility, when combined with Competence, will decrease the time it takes for you to reach the confidence point in the Referral Confidence Curve. The work of social psychologists helps illustrate the interrelated nature of credibility and competence. In studies, they have found that people evaluate each other by asking themselves two questions when they meet someone new, “Can I trust this person?” and “Can I respect this person?” Ideally, you want to be perceived as having both qualities.
For years I’ve said, when you give a referral away, you give away a little bit of your reputation. When you give a good referral, it enhances your reputation. When you give a bad referral, it hurts your reputation. I think trust is incredibly important – you must be able to trust your referral partners and be trusted in return.
Sometimes businesspeople assume they must prove that they’re smart enough to handle new business before potential customers will be willing to part with their hard-earned cash. And while this is true, people are misguided if they don’t also focus on making sure that they demonstrate they are worthy of trust.
In the 4Cs book, we speak about gaining the confidence of members within your network, and we believe that means they trust you as a person and that they know you’re good at your job. The faster you can showcase your competence and establish credibility with a fellow member, the faster they will have confidence in you and the quicker they’ll give you referrals. Building strong business relationships with potential referral partners means that you need to take time to really get to know one another at an individual level.
Confidence Leads to Credibility
Remember that it’s not your confidence that counts. It is their confidence in your ability to provide a quality product or service. When someone has confidence in you, then you become credible. Your credibility is based on their confidence in you. When your networking partners have high confidence in your ability to provide a quality service and products, then you have high credibility with them. Their confidence determines your credibility.
If you feel that you aren’t getting referrals from somebody that you have a really strong relationship with, I suggest that you sit down and talk to them. Find out if they have any concerns about your ability to do a particular job with their clients or patients or customers. If they do have concerns, then you need to work on those items to be able to develop the necessary credibility.
A final thought: When you are networking, speaking from the stage, on a webinar, or during a one-to-one business meeting, make sure that you are showing both your Competence and your Credibility.
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