Author Profile Picture

Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


Read more from Heather Townsend

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Is it possible to totally trust someone you have never met?


One of my best referral sources is someone who I have never met in person, until this weekend. Yes, never met. Exchanged phone calls, e-mails and lots of video calls on skype, but never actually met in person until this weekend.

You may be thinking, why is she telling me this? What’s the point of this? In my research for ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’, many great networkers dismiss online networking, saying it’s never quite as good as meeting in person. They assume that for trust to really develop, (and I’m talking about the type of trust which generates opportunities for each other), takes time spent physically together.

I dispute this. My view is that in-person networking will always help you strengthen and develop a relationship quicker than online networking. That would always be my preferred option for deepening a relationship, but we live in a hyper-connected global world now. As Dan Schawbel said in a recent interview for the book – ‘the internet has given as a global talent pool, where you need to be found to get the best opportunities’. Can you afford to ignore online networking any more?

I have built up many strong relationships via online networking before actually meeting them in person or sharing a skype or a phone call. This summer during my travels around the country, I have taken the opportunity to meet some of my twitter contacts in person. Three of these contacts I have been chatting to on twitter for over a year now, but never ever met in person. Each time we met, the conversation flowed – and any outsider looking would not have known that this was actually the first time we had met in person.

Indeed, Robert Watson and I have never met and never talked via the phone – only communicated via Twitter and e-mails. However, I trust his judgement and rely on his experience and opinion for my book. That level of trust takes an openness which is often quite rare when you meet people online. But, why not give it a go – you could be pleasantly surprised.

If you’ve been resisting adding online networking into your networking strategy, what other excuses are you using?

Heather Townsend is the driving force behind The Efficiency Coach and a co-founder of 'the executive village'
Are you looking for a business coach? Take a look at how we can help you or your business
Would you like a fortnightly efficiency tip? Sign up here

3 Responses

  1. Trust – a choice

    As we see it some people will trust new people from the outset until they have evidence that suggests the person cannot be trusted. Other people won’t trust new people until they have evidence that tells them they can trust the new person.

    We prefer to trust from the outset. We have done a lot of work for clients without any paper work/contract including local government! We trust our associates and have never had a "contract" with an associate. We trust our authors who, in turn, trust us. We have 14 authors and no contracts.

    Yes we have had disappointments and some have hurt – both emotionally and financially – but we prefer to work that way. It’s a choice!

    If you would like to be a trusted author and write a Useful Guide give us a call – 0845 260 2820.

    Ian and Steve and

  2. Trust: Default Settings

    I agree to a point.  Certainly you have developed a relationship and based upon feedback from the other party , you have adjusted your antennae accordingly.  Of course it was a digital exchange only and  it might be that you share some common meanings and values naturally.

    I’m wondering how it started off; whether you set a default level of trust to begin with and how does that compare with other people’s settings?


  3. Trust
    Trust is a very personal thing. Sometimes you can’t put your finger on why your gut instinct is telling you not to trust someone.

    I believe that when you are meeting someone online trust is normally built up through your credibility. How consistently are you walking your walk, talking your talk & delivering on your promises & commitments?

Author Profile Picture
Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!