Building a Trusted Network to Grow Your Business in the New Reality

Posted by: Doug Bruhnke - Global Chamber on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

It's a new global reality for business. Are you prepared to grow in the next phase?

This blog post is about how to add onto your trusted network and then leverage that for more win-win success for your business, and in your life... in the new reality of business in your region and around the world.

We've got you covered! The global tribe at Global Chamber® is a large network of globally-minded leaders located around the world in 525 metro regions - everywhere - who are serious about growing business. Each member is TRUSTED... because he or she has demonstrated the characteristics to earn that trust. We've used the new reality to expand the capabilities of this network to help our members grow.

I touched on this a few months ago in this backgrounder on Global Chamber®, and now I'd like to go deeper on the topic of trust because it's more important than ever. In fact it's downright difficult these days to grow without an extensive trusted network because many of the traditional ways of building trust are shut down. It takes new approaches to find and capture new opportunities.

Enter Global Chamber®... we're growing faster than ever with daily successes by members because we started with a large trusted network and we're growing it daily... by adding talented and well-connected team members and growing our community through members, databases and artificial intelligence. We've grown our trusted network to over 40 million leaders.

'A' leaders attract more 'A' leaders. 

If you and I trust each other, and we each have a trusted network, shouldn't I trust someone that you recommend, and vice-versa? This approach accelerates business development versus the cold biz dev techniques out there. Why search for a needle in a haystack and then risk working with someone you don't know when you can directly access trusted, vetted clients and resources?

What makes someone trusted?

I thought about 10 people that I know and trust, 5 women and 5 men - and then about what it is about them that makes me trust them. There are about 35 characteristics... capable, honest, ethical, accountable, responsible, 'word is their bond', professional, good listeners, easy to work with, get things done, do what they say and say what they do, systematic, reliable, experienced, trained, do the right thing, reasonable, flexible, resilient, adaptable, aware, enlightened, transparent, candid, globally-minded, cognizant of the big picture, humble, balanced, fair, respectful, giving, supportive, client-centric, care about others, passionate & enthusiastic.

Why is trust important?

To actually do business and get things done, we need to rely on other people. If we can't rely on them, it takes more time to get things done and the risk of failure is higher. Conversely when we work with someone we trust, communications are faster and we're more comfortable, because even when things go off the rails - and they can - we know we have a lot higher chance of getting things back on track. 

How to grow your trusted network?

If you do international business like me for over 33 years, you'll by now have a pretty good network. I was particularly blessed by working in over 100 businesses across 100+ countries. There are ways to accelerate this process, and I'll discuss below.

I used to think I knew everybody - ha ha! Then as we grew Global Chamber® with well-connected leaders in each metro around the world, it became clear that I sure don't! But WOW, collectively our global network knows nearly everyone!

Between our own team of Directors and Advisors around the world, and now as we add members at a rapid rate... collectively we seem to know all the good people to work with. Step by step, day by day, we're getting there.

We're also finding new technologies to find more good people for our network... like tapping into databases and vetting the people that we find. We're also using artificial intelligence to find the right people and screen/test them. That is what's happening behind the scenes at Global Chamber® every day... finding, vetting, growing, connecting, evaluating and on and on.

We don't want members to have to work 33 years to FINALLY then have a large trusted network!

How warm introductions and connections help.

The warm introductions process at Global Chamber® is based first on our having a large and growing trusted network AND also asking questions of members to understand who they wish to meet - the best new prospective clients, new opportunities, new resources and more. Because we know and have confidence in both parties being introduced, there's over 90% chance that a conversation will occur, and so there's a good chance that a deal will happen - now or in the future.

Due diligence tips and techniques for members.

When you speak with a Global Chamber® member who has been with us for a while, you can feel good that the person fits most or all of the characteristic shown above. Always be careful, but when you connect with the global tribe you're starting at a good place.

There are 5 main ways that we do due diligence to keep the global tribe a safe and trusted community to do business. We do these checks with every member and monitor along the way as we make warm introductions every day and throughout the years.

  1. Linkedin (and other networks). Usually when someone comes to Global Chamber® they are introduced in through someone we know. So we're feeling really good about those people right away... warm introductions matter! Many times though people find us and reach out. In both circumstances we start with a review of their background in Linkedin. How well connected are they? Is there a picture? What does their career look like and is their background filled in, with no holes? Does it all make sense? If not - that's a basis for our next conversation. Do they have recommendations, and what is the ratio of recommendations given versus received? If there's little information there, that's honestly troubling - is there another source? And for everyone, check other networks to confirm consistency - see #2.
  2. Google/web search. Do a web search on the person and company. Do basic searches on their names and also do searches with keywords like 'success story' and 'lawsuit' to see good and bad out there. If something bad shows up it doesn't mean that you don't work with them, but it can be a warning sign AND a point to discuss, for full transparency. Two examples - one good, one bad may illustrate how this works. On the good side, a google search uncovered a white collar felony and prison time for a member. However I had already been working with him for a while and I had a good feeling about his trustworthiness. He also has demonstrated integrity in dealings with other members and our team - so he stays in. On the bad side, we had a member whose firm was raided by the FBI. That was something we didn't see coming - and neither did the main employee that we worked with. The founder went to prison and contacted me to do some joint marketing once her time was served. That didn't feel right at all because she didn't address the main problems in our communications, and so we did NOT resume that.
  3. The nonsense test. Sometimes we'll notice a prospective member is active in social media supporting ideas that are not truthful, or practices that are corrupt or unethical. In the past 3+ years this issue has surfaced more in the U.S., and it can be an issue around the world. The truth is important, and we need it in business and society. Corruption makes trade much more difficult, and we just can't have the global tribe supporting or engaged with it. So if there is nonsense being communicated by any member prospect in these areas, including denying basic truth and facts, or tolerating corruption, it makes it too difficult to recommend him or her to others. It's rare that someone interested in global business acts or talks like this, but it's not unheard of, and so it's another thing we look at with prospects. We can align on the truth.
  4. Email and communications. A simple first test we do is whether the person has an e-mail signature. That's an indication of whether they're thinking about others and/or serious about growth. Sometimes those in a life-style business mode don't want new business and so they don't really care to brand themselves and their firm - and that's likely NOT a member of the global tribe. And if they haven't made it easy for people to contact them, that's not a deal-killer, but it's an indicator of potential issues. Beyond that how about their timeliness, respect for others' time, listening and overall demeanor? Are they organized? Do they show up on time? Do they share responsibility for setting up meetings? Do they spend their time talking about themselves and their business instead of asking questions and finding ways to move the needle forward together? We're all on different paths of enlightenment and business skills, and the global tribe tends to make all this very seamless and easy.
  5. What others say. Today's social media including Linkedin allows sharing how folks feel about other people and businesses. This is another datapoint for us to determine trust. What do we see out there and how heartfelt are the comments? Invariably in a warm intro especially when it's done right there is positive emotion tied in. One of my favorite people Charles Bernard of Criteria for Success introduces people in to Global Chamber® and it feels like a warm hand-off. We want to speak with these people because Charles does such a good job of explaining why we need to talk, and we're already feeling good about them from his description. We aspire to be as good as Charles in our warm intros! A good place for recommendations is Linkedin, discussed above. What are they actually saying? One of my favorite recommendations of ME is this one by Conni Ingallina, Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations that I put in my Linkedin summary because it goes to how I try to live my life every day: "Doug not only knows just about everyone who is involved in international business, but he seems to be EVERYWHERE. How does he do that? Why does he do that? I think it's because he has a passion... to see those who are like-minded be connected, and by those connections, he sees that we are stronger.” That's a global triber! And why I have the best job in the world ;-)

"To attain knowledge, add every day. To attain wisdom, remove every day." - Lao Tzu

We think of nearly everyone as either a member of Global Chamber® or a future member.

Future members typically haven't heard of us, or haven't yet wrapped their brain around the unique value we create, or don't have the priority of growth right now... but they'll be here when growth is a priority again!

To keep the global tribe growing with the right people in the meantime, we're being proactive. As we grow the global tribe we also have some people not joining because we don't actively pursue them. There's some culling that goes on.

This goes to the heart of both building a trusted network and leveraging it successfully. Here are examples of when membership doesn't necessarily work. These are listed from 'possible future members' (first 3-4 bullets), to difficult or impossible to be allowed in (last 2-3).

  • Lone wolfs. Some folks just like doing things on their own. Build their own network, stay alone. It's a strategy incredibly off-target for people and firms looking to grow. I've always thought that these folks can be saved from their own thinking, and we've had a few come in over time. I wish there were more... we can really help. So we welcome these... and realize that they are ready when they're ready.
  • Freebies. These are the folks who either don't have the budget or the mindset to be part of a global network. An example is a woman who when encouraged by one of our best members to join, wanted just to hang out and tap in for free. Look - if someone has economic issues we make it work every time. But she didn't even go there - it went right to free only. That approach undervalues what the global tribe brings to someone's business, and that's not OK. It goes to the heart of respecting our members.
  • Takers only. There are some folks that we haven't broken the code on yet. One is a woman who we've supported for years as a collaborator and quite literally nothing has ever come back. We collaborated because it seems like an amazing win-win, but one-way doesn't work. How could we introduce her to the global tribe if she doesn't understand win-win collaboration? This is a tough one to overcome, and I haven't given up on her!
  • Too political. We have members who rely on selling to the government and God bless them, they say the right things to win deals on both sides of the aisle. Luis Ramirez is a wonderful example of that - what a great leader full of competence and integrity! We also love elected officials from every party when they help with trade and are honest and full of integrity - like Republican Mayor Jim Lane (Scottsdale) and Democratic Mayor Kate Gallego (Phoenix). That said we've had a few prospective members get too political in their conversations, and that can be uncomfortable in these days when there are divergent opinions about handling things like Covid-19. We're ALL business and business success within a framework of truth and ethics... and we look to preserve that safe community, politics-free.
  • Unbalanced. This doesn't work for us. We expect everyone to have balance and respect for others. There are a couple voicemails on my phone from a fellow who took my honesty, transparency and request for civility quite personally, and then he tried to project his problems onto me in rambling messages that were abusive to others and quite threatening to me, too. We demand balance in business and life.
  • Unethical. This also does not work for us. We've had only a few of these in our first 5 years, and one more recent one was a case where we had seen some hints of impropriety, and so we did proactive checking to discover a bunch of bad things. We cut ties and he became quite abusive when we did that. He started to project onto others what he apparently did including abusing women. That's unacceptable. 

The world is a big place with all sorts of people. That's why we've defined who we want in our network, across cultures. We don't always get it right the first time but we keep working to make it better.

This is not about good and bad people, it's about the character of who we want to work with. And so that's why we do what we do, for our members, to make it easier for them to connect and succeed.

We're on the lookout for more talented leaders to grow gender balance, add diversity and new opportunities. We seek more of the characteristics above that make our network safe and valuable.

We love our global tribe! We work every day to grow our trusted network to help members grow across metros and borders. It's never been this important to have a trusted network, and so we're actively growing our unique ecosystem to make the lives of our members a little easier.

By the way, how about that picture above? Three trusted leaders... from left, Daniel Gaines of the U.S Commercial Service, Jim Pipper of the Small Business Administration and Mike Patterson at Spencer Fane. These three are global and UNSTOPPABLE! Mike was our first member 5 years ago and every single introduction we've made to him has turned out to be positive. He goes above and beyond with everyone on his legal services, and he sings a pretty amazing mariachi song, too! On a trusted scale of zero to 100 he's a 110. Thanks, Mike for setting the standard every day!

This week we held a conversation about selling within a trusted network with 4 experts HERE.

Not yet a member and fit our profile of an executive and firm that has the trusted characteristics, and you're ready to get serious about growth? Contact us... happy to discuss!

Doug Bruhnke

Founder/CEO of Global Chamber®



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