Background My startup is relying heavily on contacts, which I trust. If I improved my way of assessing whether a new contact is trustworthy or not, I believe my startup would be more successful. Sometimes I have for example dumped potential customers, by setting the price so high that it was unrealistic, just because I have a bad feeling about them. I could not even quite justify the reasons for my bad feeling myself, and much less explain them to others.
Question Are there any tricks I could use to assess the trustworthiness, which I could use in addition to my gut feeling?
The tricks I already use are things like checking the background and using my network to try to get information about the persons history. I also use Google, what I am after is more how to do this in one-to-one interaction.
I would also be interested in any practical guides on this, I know a lot of the theory being trust.
From my experience, there is no real way to know if someone is trustworthy, until they screw you. What I usually do is just look them up on Google, etc. Do my homework, and ask them questions about themselfs I already know the answers to. If you catch them in a lie or even a gross exaggeration, you might have trust issues in the future.
In one-to-one interactions I have one key thing I use which is to look for inconsistencies.
I have also found that if my gut is telling me to be cautious, if I think about it logically I can usually articulate solid reasons why I am feeling that way.
Be sure you are doing some back-channel references - folks your contact did not give you as a reference. You can find such people via LinkedIn, FB, etc. Your goal is to have a candid conversation with someone whom your contact has not "anointed" as a reference.
Formal references seldom give you valuable insights, for obvious reasons. Back-channel references are much more likely to be candid with you.