10 ways to establish trust and rapport with new clients

Without trust in a relationship, nothing else matters. Without it, a relationship cannot grow and thrive, and is doomed to fail. Trust in client relationships is no different, and it’s a priceless commodity that has little to do with your credentials, knowledge, or experience. Gaining—and keeping—trust requires integrity, humility, and understanding. Trust is related to emotion more so than logic (though they’re both elements), so how can you build trust and rapport with new clients who don’t yet know you?

WHAT IS TRUST?

A dictionary defines trust as a belief in the reliability, in the truth, or in the ability of something or someone.

However, belief implies that there is an element of doubt. Trust is usually an instance where we accept as fact a belief we may have for which there may be only partial evidence. Yet absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. For this very reason there’s a degree of uncertainty and risk is inherent. Whoever or whatever we may place trust in will perhaps not always live up to expectations.
Trust can be applied to any relationship or to any transaction, and further, we speak of ‘placing our trust’ in others, illustrating that trust includes an action rather than simply our emotional responses. Therefore, trust is both an emotional and a logical action. Emotionally, it is where we expose our vulnerabilities to others, while trusting or believing that one’s vulnerability will not be taken advantage of.

10 ways to establish trust and rapport with new clients
We literally feel trust. The emotions we associate with trust include love, friendship, companionship, agreement, comfort, relaxation. Trust can be conceptualized as reliability in transactions.

WHAT TRUST LOOKS LIKE IN PRACTICE

  • Trusting relationships allow us, with some degree of certainty, to predict what others will do when given situations occur.
  • Trust is actively making an exchange with another person or entity, even though we may have little knowledge of them, or of the product being offered.
  • Trust is giving something now with the expectation that the trade will be honored, recognized, or repaid in some unspecified way, at some point in the future.
  • Trust is empowering others to take advantage of one’s vulnerabilities, but believing that they will not.

HOW CAN TRUST BE ESTABLISHED?

Given these concepts and definitions, what are ways we can enter into relationships with clients which allow us to build trust and rapport on an ongoing basis? The following 10 suggestions describe actions that will build and maintain trust with your clients. If when reading these suggestions, you think to yourself “I know that!” let your next question be, “Am I doing that?” You will always achieve greater levels of success by doing rather than merely knowing.

TEN WAYS TO ESTABLISH TRUST & RAPPORT WITH NEW CLIENTS

1. Deliver a brief, yet inspirational introduction that conveys your passion for health, fitness, wellness, and coaching. People come to coaching for accountability but also for inspiration. They hope to gain insight and inspiration. Be a product of the product!

2. Be on your client’s side- accept them unconditionally. They’ve trusted you enough to seek your expert assistance, so be their biggest advocate during their journey. They may have missteps along the way; they may be resistant to your suggestions. Regardless, be their unfailing ally.

3. Leave judgment, criticism, and disappointment out of the coaching relationship. Let positivity reign. While coaching may be frustrating at times, it’s crucial to not let your frustration or disappointment show. They need you be calm and consistent and persevere when they feel like giving up.

4. Be a champion of your client’s strengths. We are all our own worst critics. Your clients need you to be a mirror reflecting back their strengths and gifts. Help them to uncover these gifts and remind them of them frequently.

5. Show empathy – seek to understand and appreciate the experience, including their feelings, needs, and desires. Many who seek wellness coaching do so because they’ve failed previously in their quest for health and wellness. It’s important to recognize their struggles and help them reframe them in order to reach their goals.

6. Be a humble role model – walk the talk, but don’t be arrogant. Share your journey and your personal struggles as well. You may be further down the proverbial road, but be mindful that everyone has a different starting point and different obstacles.

7. Slow down and create the space for a relaxing environment. Be present. Be mindful; a client will know when you’re distracted. They won’t trust you if you’re never truly present for them.

8. Honor your promises. Part of trust means following through on commitments, being honest about failures, and holding up your end of the proverbial log. If a difficult circumstance will prevent you from honoring a promise or commitment, be honest then work with your client to meet the commitment as soon as possible. Life happens to all of us. Clients will understand that if you’re honest and sincere about making things right.

9. Set clear coaching parameters. Take the relationship seriously by outlining your confidentiality agreement and coaching logistics. Seeing your commitment to honoring client confidentiality will increase trust in you and ease your client’s potential concerns about having their privacy protected.

10. Over deliver in your coaching relationship. Be interested in each client as an individual and make the effort to demonstrate that interest. So many business relationships are merely transactional and impersonal that if you go the extra mile by doing small things (such as sending uplifting, handwritten notes, checking in between sessions, recognizing personal milestones, etc.) you’ll further personalize your client relationships which will increase trust and rapport. Everyone likes to feel special!

The bottom line is trust is a vital commodity in client relationships, and it must be carefully cultivated and nurtured. It will require intentional effort to become a master in doing both, but you will find yourself achieving greater levels of success for yourself and your clients, further increasing trust and rapport.


Learn more about building trust and rapport with your clients in our Coaching Foundations course. Coaching Foundations is one of six required courses in our program to earn a certification as an Expert Wellness Coach.

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