Gaining Trust: 3 Parts of Architect - Client Trust

August 27, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

Seated in a chair across from you is the prospective client: brimming with ideas, dreams, and a project that you badly desire.

And a mix of hope and hesitance. Because there’s still something left to be earned. What is it? Trust.

Trust is everything.

Prospective clients are a bit like wary meerkats. They’re on the lookout for trust. And can we blame them? Their hard-earned money, dreams, and aspirations are on the line.

It’s very difficult to win high-quality clients without first earning their trust.

And when most architects hear “trust” they think:

  • Decades of experience

  • A shelf of industry awards

  • An expansive and polished portfolio of work

Not true. Trust isn’t some elite club that requires loads of experience, endless awards, and perfect portfolios. It’s open for all.

So before you panic and reach right for your portfolio to prove your trust, take a pause.

Let’s debunk this together. Trust is accessible. But it’s also multifaceted.

Here are the 3 elements of trust (and how to master each):

01 // Integrity

Does this architect want to help me?

Integrity isn’t just that fancy word you toss around during interviews. It’s all about doing what you do for the right reasons.

Ever been suspect of a person or business pitching the world with a power-driven gaze? That’s your questionable integrity alarm going off.

Prospects need to feel that you truly believe you can make a positive impact on their lives.

Here’s how:

  • Share your greater purpose: And no, not the "we want to make the world beautiful" spiel. Maybe you're driven to design eco-friendly homes after witnessing the horrors of climate change. Maybe you’re intent on the power of natural light after experiencing the exhaustion of artificially lit spaces.

  • Lean on your Transformation Statement: This is the succinct statement that reminds a prospect why you’re the perfect fit. It identifies who you help, what you help them do, and why you’re one-of-a-kind.

  • Respect time and opinions: Sounds simple? Just be punctual and value their time. If you don’t, they’ll notice. And you’ll have to climb uphill the rest of the way.

02 // Capability

Can this architect help me?

Yeah, you’ve got the skills. But the trick is convincing your client without pulling out your portfolio.

Why am I so adamant about avoiding your portfolio to build trust? Because that’s what every other architect is doing!

And you’re not like every other architect.

You’re different. You’re unique. You’re magnetic. You’re Tyler-Tactified 😜

Here’s how to prove you’re capable (without a portfolio):

  • Rake in the social proof: Make sure that you’re always asking for feedback, earning irresistible testimonials, and creating attention-grabbing case studies. Share this social proof as a Marvel-worthy story (and don’t forget that you’re the sidekick in the story!).

  • Show your attention-to-detail: Small details combine to prove capability. Make sure your office is clean and organized. Answer questions clearly. Tell your receptionist to welcome prospective clients by their first name before they say their name (that’ll really blow their mind). This is a team effort. Trust is earned at the individual and team level.

03 // Empathy

Does this architect understand me?

It’s easy to forget that behind every project, there’s a person with dreams, fears, and a penchant for late-night ice cream binges. (Or maybe that’s just me? 😏)

Meetings with prospective clients are not about you. Don’t be the architect that interrupts a client's story to brag about their trip to Italy. Don’t be the architect that ignores their client’s call for help. Don’t be the architect that doesn’t believe any client knows what they’re talking about.

Be the architect that makes the client feel heard and understood.

Here's how to ace the empathy game:

  • Build rapport: Don’t jump straight into business. Begin with a little chit-chat. Do your homework to find something that you and your prospect can both relate to. And don’t move onto business until that connection is felt.

  • Don your detective hat: Dive deep. Ask great questions. Chase their pain points. Learn what keeps them up at night.

  • Echo their feelings: Listen, nod, and when possible, relate to your client. Even better, repeat and confirm what you think your client is saying. It assures them that they're heard.

  • Engage on social media: As I said at the beginning, trust is multifaceted. But it’s also multichannel. You can build trust outside of client meetings. Prime your prospects to trust you by using social media. Share content that is genuinely valuable to your target audience. (Use a content matrix to get started.)


Trust is the foundation of a solid client relationship. And it makes winning projects wayyyyyy easier. Here’s the trio of elements that earn client trust:

  • Integrity: Does this architect want to help me?

  • Capability: Can this architect help me?

  • Empathy: Does this architect understand me?

I trust you can do it 🙂

Growthitect is a newsletter that shares one quick and powerful growth tactic for architects each week:

Join 4,500+ architecture leaders already reading each week.

Share this article on: