The main reason that consultants rely so heavily on referrals for business development is because there is a requirement for trust.

The client needs to trust the consultant because the project will often be expensive and high-risk.

Referrals do a great job of passing trust because it’s a personal recommendation. Reputation is on the line.

But there are different types of trust. The referring person might trust you in several different ways:

  1. Trust that you are technically proficient, somewhere on a scale from merely competent to the top of your field.
  2. Trust that you will hold a fiduciary responsibility – you always put the needs of your client before yourself.
  3. Trust that you will always do the right thing, from an ethical or legal standpoint.
  4. Trust that you will treat the client in a professional or sympathetic way – perhaps “bedside manner” is important in the relationship or problem area.

Trust in your technical proficiency may not always be the most important factor.

What other types of trust are there? Which is the most important for your clients?

Read more about why trust is so important in consulting relationships.