From leading product teams at startups and large enterprises, Keith Cowing has an extensive background in producing products that make an impact. When it comes to developing your career, building trust is the key to moving up. Keith outlines top questions that you'll need to answer at various stages in your career that will decide if you will earn or lose trust in key situations.

Building Trust: Questions You Need To Answer

Whether you’re starting your product career or have reached the C-suite, there’s nothing more important than building trust. From customers and influencers to managers and investors, trust is the foundation for every professional relationship that you will cultivate.

In my career, I’ve been faced with several instances in which trust can be earned or lost. Clearly, earning trust is the key to long-term career success. With this in mind, I will share four questions that you’ll need to answer at various times as a product manager. If you have the right answer to these questions, you’ll be well on your way to building trust with everyone in your network.

Investors: Do I trust that you have a fighting chance to turn $1 million into $100 million?

The people who you rely on to fund your business are a tough crowd to please. For example, they meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs who think they have the next big thing. If you’re fortunate to make your pitch to a venture capital firm or group of investors, you need to stand out and prove that you are worthy of their investment. Furthermore, you should take the same approach with your company’s leadership team. Ultimately, your executive team is responsible for allocating resources based on the potential upside that you present.

Team Building: Do I trust you with my career?

Since joining Flatiron Health, I have interviewed over 500 product managers for open positions. Every candidate has different expectations for what they’re looking to gain by joining a given company. As a result, you need to make the case for why your company is the only place that top talent should consider. Furthermore, many of these top candidates will have offers from other competitors. With this, a big part of building trust is to demonstrate that you can accelerate their career faster than another company.

Customers: Can I count on you when I need you most?

It’s easy to work with customers when things are going smoothly. However, the key to building trust with customers is how you respond under pressure. Specifically, they will be seeking assurance that you won’t cut corners when things get tough. Instead, it’s on you to take the high road – while maintaining strength and fortitude in the midst of challenges.

Hiring Managers: Do I trust you to make me look good?

When you’re applying for jobs, it’s easy to focus solely on how you’re performing. However, you also need to keep the interests of your hiring manager in mind. For example, their careers will be impacted by your ability to prove that the company made the best hire for your role. Before thinking about your final round of interviews, a critical step in building trust is making a first impression with the person who will set you up for success.

 

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About the Speaker
Keith Cowing
Flatiron Health VP of Product
Keith Cowing is the VP of Product Management at Flatiron Health, where he builds products to help cancer patients live longer and healthier lives. He is also a career advisor at keithoncareers.com. Prior to joining Flatiron, Keith was the founder and CEO of Seamless Receipts (acquired by Sailthru) and a product manager at Twitter and LinkedIn. He received an MBA in entrepreneurship and a bachelor of science in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University.

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