You might not know yet, but I’m a Southerner. I grew up where it was hot and sticky, attended the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!), and worked in Atlanta for years.
My first question to you might just be, “How’s your Mama?” because I really do want to know how your mom is doing, but also because I know it matters to people to check in on their loved ones.
I also lived and worked in Santiago, Chile and in Seattle, Washington and ran a number of strategic marketing programs throughout Europe where I got to know and respect my colleagues across the pond.
The point of this walk down my memory lane is that I have a wide network of people that are important to me, that I want to stay in touch with, and with whom I want to maintain relationships.
Work and life get busy, but these relationships took time to build and are meaningful to me, so it’s important that I put in the work to keep them up, stay in touch and keep on asking, “How’s your Mama?” because that matters not only to me but to my friends and colleagues.
It’s no different in business, really. Relationships are the beating heart of every facet of business, and no matter what the marketing trend-du-jour looks like, our successes on the work front are often founded in our ability to connect on a personal level. This connection can be strained, however, by our crazy schedules that often have us plowing through so many deliverables that engaging personally with any one connection gets lost. Our relationships can become superficial, which inhibits our ability to do our best work and make progress.
So, how do we build these relationships that drive business success? That’s something I just wrote about in an article for Business2Community – 4 Secrets to Building Valuable Relationships. Whether you’re an extrovert like me, or building rapport is more of a struggle for you, the steps involve a little bit of heart and a lot of common sense. Let’s take a look at what they look like:
- Consistency: What you and your team promise up front, you need to deliver throughout the relationship. This proves you’re committed to the relationship through and through.
- Setting the Right Expectations: Your team and your client’s team have to be operating from the same playbook. Talk up front to ensure the definition of success is the same and that you’re working toward a common goal.
- Transparency: Relationships don’t work if either party hides their successes or their failures. This transparency can often change competition to collaboration, and documenting roles and ownership is a smart way to understand who’s responsible for what so nothing gets dropped.
- Deliver the Right Solution: Spend time getting to know the other team’s strategic direction, corporate objectives and challenges so you know how your solution will affect all of the impacted groups.
These steps really aren’t that different than those we would take in our personal relationships. It’s about thinking about the other party and making sure we have their interests at heart as well as our own. I truly believe that if we are to make progress in our business initiatives with our partners, impersonal communication just won’t do. We have to invest in relationships that drive results.
Please give the article a read and let me know what you think. What would you add to the list? Do you see one of the steps differently?