You always need a relationship to do business. The larger the level of business, the stronger the level of relationship that you need. Understanding the power of relationships in business is one of the keys to growing your business effectively.
Relationships are built on confidence in yourself and in others. The core relationship in business is the professional relationship. That is defined by your confidence in two things:
1. That you will do what you say
2. That it is a better deal for your customer to do business with you than it is to not do business with you.
The first component, that you will give and keep your word, is the most basic element of relationship. If customers can’t count on you doing what you say, then they have nothing to count on with you. It is a bad idea for them to do business with you. You might inadvertently or on purpose change the deal and they likely won’t receive their side of the value equation.
The second component is the value equation itself. If it is a better deal for customers to give you their money in exchange for something of value, then they will. That means that your customer is getting something in return that is more important to them than the money. If they don’t see that they get something back that leaves them better off, then they won’t do it.
Looking at it from your side, if it is a better deal for you to take their money and provide your goods and services, then you will do that. However, you will not lose on the transaction (at least you won’t walk into the arrangement with that intention). If you don’t see the win in it for yourself, you are better off telling them to keep your money.
The Evolution of Partnerships and Community
Beyond the basic relationships associated with a deal or transaction, relationships are growing in the world today. They permeate more aspects of your life every day. The computer was blamed as a tool that would keep people isolated and disconnected. However, people have done the opposite – they use the computer to generate and nurture new relationships, both in business and in the rest of their life.
The newest dimension that seems to be taking over is Web 2.0 social networking. Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and a whole host of others is quickly becoming the new norm. People connect with each other more than ever. A parent and child can keep in touch throughout the day (but not during school hours!) text messaging on their pda’s. Pictures and video are flying back and forth across hundreds and thousands of miles with the flip of a button.
The development of community, in partnership with others shows up in a number of ways. Word of mouth has always been a source of finding what you want. Now, people have set up formalized arrangements of affiliate marketing, joint ventures and strategic alliances, to enhance access to those recommendations, and business as a whole.
Yet, there are situations where people dismiss the importance of relationships, or worse still they assume the relationship and then get surprised.
One of the by-products of technology since about 1970 is that life seems to have sped up. The natural world still has its 4 seasons, and the rotation of the Moon around Earth still occurs every 28 days. There is a time to sow and a time to reap. There used to be a season for everything. Now much of that seems to have evaporated.
Peoples relationship with time has changed from cyclical to linear. Somehow there is an almost universal expectation to do more in less time. After all, with all these technological advances, you can now produce that glossy brochure, or video, or record your own album in the quiet of your home. You mean you haven’t done all those yet?
More, more, more, with less, less, less. This has a huge affect on the nature and quality of relationships. This is an era of kids who grew up with TV as their babysitter who are now becoming grandparents. Dinner as a place for nurturing family relationships has been replaced with drive-through fast food on the way to something or other.
Quality time between parents and their children is during drive time from home to school, or school to soccer practice, or from one place to another.
If this is true in families, it is no less true in business. Many a time have I witnessed situations where people are so caught up in the tasks they have to accomplish, that they forget about the relationships. Yet, the evolution of relationships is a core part of effectiveness in business.
Take the Time
Stop and take stock of the relationships in your business. Clarify for yourself:
- What are the most important relationships to me in my business?
- What am I doing to nurture and evolve those relationships?
- How might I improve the quality of these relationships?
- How might I expand them further?
By noticing the impact of the relationships you have, and by seeking to expand them, you will find it easier to gain and keep more customers as you grow your business consistent with your goals and commitments in life.