The Power of Relationships – Not Online but In-Person
I had an opportunity recently to sit with about a half-dozen business owners. The conversations covered a variety of topics, but the predominant conversation was all about the power of relationships and building a web of interconnected relationships.
Curiously, this topic came up because most of the business owners felt their marketing focused too much on the online world. Inbound marketing, content marketing, “Give it away and they will come” marketing. Frustration was the most common emotion. Too frequently, the stories were about online marketing tactics that cost too much and produce too little.
The frustration led to stories about the powerful results realized through strong relationships and what they can do for you. The irony of this wasn’t lost on the group. We agreed that the world is smaller and connections are instantaneous, yet the human element of business is more and more distant. The predilection among marketing experts is the need for an online presence and online relationships. The group agreed though that these online relationships were not really relationships at all. They more closely resembled transactional interactions.
An online relationship occurs in short bursts, usually defined in seconds, not minutes. There is a pre-defined reason for the online interaction – gather information, share information, conduct a transaction. There is no emotional connection (emojis don’t count). If emotions do arise in an online interaction, they are usually in the extreme; extreme anger or extreme satisfaction.
Which led us back to the success stories through relationships. The best successes emanated from people we know. The in-person relationship allows one to separate themselves from the masses by not acting like one of the masses.
So we continued to delve into the how, what, and why of building in-person relationships. What do we know about building relationships and engaging people in the right way?
Building relationships is a lot of work. It is not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing activity that needs to be part of one’s daily routine. Building relationships requires authenticity. Be genuine in your motivations. Remember, it’s about the relationship, not the transaction.
There is risk in building a relationship because it requires openness and transparency. You have to give of yourself first before you can expect any degree of openness in return. Effective relationship building also entails accountability to action – to others and to yourself. If you make a commitment, follow through on it. Trust builds when commitments are met.
A relationship is a personal thing. Therefore, converse about personal things. Sharing personal information with the people to whom you connect enables the relationship to expand beyond just business. At their most effective level, relationships do not have a qualifier such as a “business” relationship or a “personal” relationship. Relationships are just relationships.
Leveraging relationships in business means building a base of relationships. This does not mean a database of online customers. Rather, it’s the top clients who already do business with you. It’s the top 20 people you want to connect with to explore doing business together. It’s the people in your organization who represent the business every day. It’s the influencers and connectors who have an impact on the business.
The final point the group unanimously agreed on was that as business leaders, we need to show the way regarding connecting and building relationships. That means shifting priorities somewhat.
- Successful business leaders recognize that the only true differentiator today are the relationships the organization and people develop. If transactions turn products and services into commodities, then relationships supersede transactions and differentiate us on an individual basis.
- Build the relationship before trying to sell something. The old adage is people buy from people. If you and your people are in a transactional mode, prospects and customers end up buying stuff because that’s all they know – and stuff is a commodity.
Who you know is the precursor to success. How you deal with others paves the road to success. If you focus on building your relationships, and treat it as a top priority, success will follow.