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How Can People Tell If You’re Sincere?

You’ve heard the old joke: How can you tell when a lawyer is lying? It’s easy. Their lips are moving.

Social prospecting within the HNW community is all about making the right connections. But there’s bad news: Because so many people have tried cultivating wealthy and successful people as business prospects and done it badly, there’s a cloud of suspicion when you try. So, how can people tell you are sincere?

Insincerity is easy for them to spot. Crime dramas use means, motive and opportunity as the criteria for determining guilt. If you move too fast, talk too much and focus on yourself, they assume you want something.

Four Tests of Sincerity

A property developer I interviewed said it best: “People don’t lie to you the first time you meet. They don’t have a reason yet.” Here are four indicators that send people a signal that you mean what you say:

  • Eye Contact –- “Looking someone in the eyes changes the entire conversation,” as Kush and Wisdom will tell you. It’s an advantage face-to-face interaction has over social media. Sustained eye contact conveys sincerity. Frequent glancing away or looking at your feet implies deceit.
  • Credibility of Accomplishments –- Since 56% of job seekers have been caught lying on resumes it’s understandable that successful individuals are suspicious of new faces that start touting their accomplishments. In social situations we often talk about leisure subjects like travel and are tempted to embellish our experiences to show we fit into their HNW world. They can tell when you rave about a meal you just had at a famous restaurant when they know it’s been closed for six months.
  • Find Common Ground — Wealth is not the only criteria of social acceptance. Most people have a passion. It may be a favorite sports team, wine, travel or collecting something. You have a great advantage if there is overlap. True enthusiasts are eager to share their knowledge with people with similar interests. Having a sincere desire to learn counts too.
  • Remembering Details -–Professionals are used to dealing with people that hear but don’t listen. Doctors tell patients to lose weight or stop smoking. They don’t. Each time you meet a person you learn a little more about them. It forms a tapestry of their life. You learn about vacations they are planning or their concern about a parent with Alzheimer’s. You recall the conversation and ask for an update the next time you see them.

The Final Test

They are starting to like you. This might mean friendship, business coming your way or a discrete conversation about a future job opening. You are still in the testing phase.

Not everyone is good at follow-up. When we stumble it’s often in social situations. You promise to send along an article or call with a restaurant recommendation before they leave on vacation. You get busy. A day becomes a week. You rationalize it wasn’t very important. You were wrong.

Many successful people got to the top because they are good at managing details. People consider your skill at following-up in social situations as an indicator of your ability to follow-up in business situations. They are still considering reasons to disqualify you. As Audrey Hepburn said in Charade: “I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.” Delivering through follow-up is critical.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.

Image: iStock/VladislavStarozhilov