Friday, September 14, 2007

How can they trust you?

Several Linkedin users have sent me invitation emails starting with "Peter, since you're a person I trust, I would like to connect directly with you."

This sounds really great, the only unfortunate thing is that the invitation rarely comes from a young beautiful woman.

But seriously, I always wondered about something: these invitation emails come from people I have never met, online or offline. So how can they say that they "trust" me?

The key, I think, is to differentiate between "personal" trust and "institutional" trust. Personal trust has to be built through shared history and this often takes time.

Institutional trust, on the other hand, has to do with documented evidence, such as credentials, affiliations, years of employment, etc.

It's possible that people check out my profile on Linkedin, and see that I'm worthy of trust given my academic and entrepreneurial track record.

For instance, they see that the Gazette, a Montreal-based newspaper, has talked about a workshop I created as well as the company (Talentelle) I co-founded with my sister.

They also see that I was valedictorian of my high school and have graduated with Honours from Dawson College and Distinction from McGill University.

My point is that the more documented evidence you have of your success track record, the easier it is for people to trust you. They may not (yet) trust you at the personal level, but at least, they trust your track record as a professional, manager, entrepreneur, etc.

So far, I've more than 500 connections, and 98% of them have invited me. I invited only a few people, about a dozen.

Bottom line: Write your profile carefully so that people can reasonably infer that you are trustworthy. They will then invite you to connect with them, and that's when a world of professional and/or business opportunities will open up to you.