Trust, relationships and the Internet

At the moment I’m in Orlando, Florida, USA, attending the annual convention of the National Speakers Association. There are 1,700 people here and much of the coffee-room chat is about maximising the use of the Internet for the speaking business. But one delegate, Mike Stewart (The Internet Audio Guy) said something interesting to me at his exhibition stand. He said that in the past he did business with people he knew, people he trusted and got on with. Nowaydays, he says much of his business is with people he has never met, yet has to develop some kind of trust with them. “It’s trust by electrons,” he said. And that’s a key point about the way we’re doing business online; in the past much business was face to face and we used body language and other signals to work out what was exactly going on in the developing relationship of buyer and seller. With the Internet that same “buyer-seller dance” is still happening, but in a totally different way. If you want to succeed online, you need to grasp the different ways in which online trust is built.

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