A Single Question That Will Help You Instantly Build Trust With Anyone: An Interview With Dave Kerpen


What are some quick ways you can get people to like you and to trust you?

So much about life and relationships is about building trust. We do business with people we trust. We help people we trust. We go out of our way for people we trust. But how do you build trust with someone you’re meeting for the first time?

Dave Kerpen is the founder and CEO of Likeable Local social media software company and co-founder of Likeable Media, a word of mouth marketing agency. He's also the author of one of my favorite books of 2016, The Art of People—which I describe as a modern-day version ofHow to Win Friends and Influence People.

I recently interviewed Dave to get his advice on how to build trusting relationships. (The transcript below has been edited lightly for space and clarity).

Kevin Kruse: You say there's a magic word or two that can get everyone to want to be around you. What are those words?

Dave Kerpen: When people greet each other, they always ask how you're doing. The typical answer used to be, “Fine.” That’s changed a bit because of how busy people are. Now, the typical answer is, “Busy,” or, “Good,” or, “OK.”

When people ask me how I'm doing, I say, “Fantastic.” Because you know what? At the end of the day, I am fantastic. It absolutely gets people's attention every single time. They're like, “Oh, wow, I want to hang out with you. What are you on? What's going on with you? Why are things so awesome?”

The other word that I talk about is more in the sense of when I am addressing my company or giving a speech. I love using the word, “Imagine.” We all love to think big and imagine. It's kind of like that childlike innocence still in us. No matter how jaded or cynical you are, and I'm a New Yorker so I know lots of very jaded and cynical people… When you hear the word “imagine,” it opens things up a little bit for people.

Kruse: I always tell people emotions are contagious and you write about these things called “mirror neurons.” How do they relate to this conversation?

Kerpen: Mirror neurons are actual science that proves what we're just talking about. That we have neurons in ourselves that actually mirror the mood of the person speaking with us.

If you're in a great mood and you're talking to people, they're actually going to physically have a response and be in a better mood than they were. Similarly, if you're in a crap mood, and you're tired, and you're annoyed, and you're not in a good place, then the people that you're talking to are going to literally feel that as well.

Kruse: You also say that when you first meet someone, there's one question you should always ask.

Kerpen: I tell the story in the book about a guy by the name of Michael Kislin, who was one of literally hundreds of people that solicit me every week. He's a financial planner, and he sent me an email that stood out a little bit from the other solicitations that I get. The email said, “I'd love to just have 15 minutes with you. I just have one question for you, and I promise I won't sell you anything.” I said, “All right, I'll give the guy a chance.”

Kislin came to my office and said, “My one question is, ‘How can I help you?’ Maybe I can make an introduction for you or make a reference or help you out in some way or another.” I said, “All right, I'm raising money for my latest software company here and if you know any major capitalists, I'd love an intro.” He made a couple intros for me, which was so kind. Then, I said, “While your here, you might as well tell me about what you do and see if there's a fit.” He said, “No, absolutely. I promised I wouldn't sell you. That's just not going to happen.”

I was amazed by the fact that he truly stuck to that single mindedness with regard to how he could help me.

So of course, several months later, I had an opportunity… I needed some help with financial planning. I called him up, and he ended up becoming my financial planner, and then I recommended him to several others. He's made a lot of money off of me, not because he sold me but because he truly was selfless and out to help me.

You have to be sincere about it. You have to be authentic about it. You can't just say, “Sir, take this”, as a trick and then go out and try and trick people. If you can truly ask how you can help someone sincerely, that's going to open up some great doors for you.

I speak all the time to audiences all over the world, and when I speak to college students, for instance, or young people, one of the things I say is, “How many people in the room are on SnapChat?” Everyone raises their hands. Then I say, “Guess what? If you were to call up right now, or email, or send a LinkedIn note to any Fortune 500 CEO on the planet and say ‘Hey, I'd love 15 minutes and I don't know if this would be helpful, but I would love to teach you how to use SnapChat and why SnapChat is so important as a new way of communicating.” I can pretty much guarantee you that every one of those Fortune 500 CEOs could use the help.

Whether they would take you up on the offer, I can't promise. The point is, we all have value to give. Everyone on the planet. It's just a matter of figuring out that match.

Click here to listen to the full podcast interview with Dave Kerpen.

CEO of LEADx, and NY Times bestselling author, of Great Leaders Have No Rules and Employee Engagement 2.0. Get a FREE demo of the LEADx platform at https://leadx.org/preview.