Do Your Prospects Trust You? Try This

Do you have big plans for the weekend? I do.

Beginning tonight at 6 pm and running through mid-day on Sunday, I will be reunion-ing (unless there is no such word) with my old business school buddies.

It’s not just any reunion, either. It’s our 30 year.

And what a great time we had back then. Going to classes, drinking beer, staying up late, going out dancing, and doing the things that unmarried 25-year-olds tend to do (don’t make me spell it out).

I’ve been involved in the planning of the event and so I’ve had a look at the guest list. Overall, attendees tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. People I’ve never heard of.
  1. People I talk to regularly, some as often as once a week.
  1. People I haven’t seen or heard from in 30 years.

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that my conversations with the people in each of these three groups will be quite different.

In general, the better we know each other, not only will the tone be more personal and casual, the conversation itself will focus on more RECENT events.

If, for example, you and I speak once a week, I’m not going to walk over, shake your hand and say, “Hey, guess what happened to me in 2004.”

If, on the other hand, we haven’t laid eyes on each other in 30 years, anything since the end of the Reagan administration is fair game.

Without question, familiarity and recency are highly correlated.

Now let’s talk about your writing and, in particular, the role that recency can play.

You want readers to feel comfortable with you. To trust you. To like you.

Not just because it’s nice – these are all important steps along the path to getting hired.

Comfort, trust and likeability aren’t necessary in all selling situations; if you can throw a baseball 100 miles an hour, nobody cares about your ability to relate to other people.

But in most cases, where whatever it is you’re selling is perceived as nearly identical to that of your competition (did somebody say “professional services?”), it’s what sets you apart.

That’s why when you write, and in an effort to create that comfort, trust and likeability, you want to pay close attention to time frame. When you talk about things that happened or will happen within a short time frame, we feel more connected to you.

Is it an illusion? Pretty much. But effective all the same.

Look at the second paragraph of today’s post, for example: “Beginning tonight at 6 pm and running through mid-day on Sunday, etc.” That’s the time frame of friends.

What if, instead, I said, “This past spring, I attended my 30 year business school reunion,” and jumped into the story from there?

Same information, but now it’s switched from a story you share with a friend over a cup of coffee, to something you tell to a stranger.

That one, small difference changes the tone entirely.

Here’s the bottom line. The best advice I could ever give you about writing in a more authentic way is simply this: Write to readers as if you already know them well.

When you include specific references to recent events, they’ll feel like you actually do.

Gotta run. Those reunion beers ain’t going to drink themselves…

About the author

Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in helping (tiny) professional service firms talk about their work in a way that is clear and compelling. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, here


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