"Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes are uncertain. People are irrational."
--- Hugh Mackay
You may have heard it said before: "Business is built upon relationships." The saying is true, but it is the practice that becomes difficult. Building relationships is easy if that is all you do, but we all know there is so much more to do when running a business than taking time out to build relationships. Relationships take time… a lot of time. In fact, the more you invest into a relationship, the more you get out of it.
Carving out time to begin and nurture relationships is something that most of us have to make ourselves do. It is not a natural act for some and causes a lot of stress for others. However, building relationships is needed in order to build a solid, successful business.
"People who have good relationships at home are more effective in the marketplace."
--- Zig Ziglar
A good starting place for building relationships is with our immediate circle of family and friends. It is assumed with both groups that a relationship already exists, but that isn't always true. Some family members may feel like mere acquaintances while some friends are only called "friends" in name only and are only people you may associate with.
Building true relationships requires getting to know a person and understanding them on a deep level. It is knowing where they hurt and what pleases them. If we can build relationships with these folks, we have a strong relationship-building foundation for building other ones as well.
"Assumptions are the termites of relationships."
--- Henry Winkler
When building relationships whether with prospects, employees, vendors or competitors, the first step is to take the first step. In other words, don't wait on the other person to begin the relationship process. Make the first moves by inviting him or her for coffee, asking questions about his or her life, and offering assistance in whatever capacity they may need. Go into developing a relationship with the sole purpose of creating a long-lasting relationship and not with the "what can they do for me?" attitude.
Next, keep a record of your relationships in some good customer relationship management file either online, using software, or on paper. Use any tool that will help you keep track of your new relationships in terms of their needs, their likes, their contact information, and so forth. This record is purely used more as a reminder than anything else because it is difficult to keep it all in your head.
"A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships."
--- Stephen Covey
Finally, if you are like most of us, you will put off working on relationships for another day. This is detrimental to your business. The best way to get over this procrastination hump is to pretend that you are going on vacation in a month and you have only four weeks to develop these relationships. What steps can you take now to get things going?
Use a similar trick to get you off first base and heading home with new, life-long relationships. You will be thankful for the time that you invest now.
"Treasure your relationships, not your possessions."
--- Anthony J. D'Angelo
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