Even though your new clients have sufficient faith in your abilities to put their matter in your hands, trust–the bedrock of a working relationship with any client–must still be earned. When a new client walks in your door, your inclination may be to see another problem to be solved, another fee to garner and to forget the human being behind the case. Your client, whether a Fortune 500 CEO or a grieving widow, is a vulnerable individual who has come to you for help.
Two easy techniques can help establish trust from the get-go:
1. Establish eye contact.
People believe you are trustworthy when they can see your eyes. When we say of someone “He/she has shifty eyes,” we don’t believe they are honest or forthright. Thus, when your client speaks to you, make sure you are engaging good eye focus, even if you are taking notes. Make a point of looking up at your client for several seconds, nod your acknowledgement of their point, and only then look down briefly to take a note. Get your eyes back up to your client again as soon as possible.
2. Listen attentively.
Don’t let your mind wander as you listen to your new client’s tale of woes. If an unrelated thought crosses your mind, jot a word or two to remind yourself about it later, and immediately redirect your full attention to the client in front of you. People feel when you’re not really present, and they interpret this as lack of respect.