Published November 23, 2009
Business , Relationships
I love the moment when you break through storm clouds in an airplane and the dark rainy day turns into beautiful sunny perfection. I was flying out to Denver Colorado the other week for the first Design and Construction Network (DCN) networking event in the Western US and I was excited to be skiing for the first time in Colorado. Because of the extra ski luggage I was traveling with a couple of books instead of my computer, giving me ample time to reflect.
Several weeks ago I shared with you my personal vision “to help others build relationships that create success in business and life.” This is based on a belief that relationships are the foundation of all real success. As I flew that morning I took the time to reflect on this past year and the journey that I have been on, recording some of it in my journal:
“As we broke through the clouds this morning life has become much clearer. My goal to help others is renewed as I reflect and see the successes of this past year. I simply can’t believe all that has happened since I first wrote why help other people. It is especially exciting to see the multitude of new relationships that have developed over the past year that have allowed me to succeed at work and in new ways that I never even imagined… I have greatly enjoyed watching the real relationships that have developed across the US through the Design and Construction Network and I find it beyond rewarding to be a part of a group that has relationship development as its central focus. I have been humbled by numerous opportunities to speak and write this past year; it is nothing less than amazing to experience the response of others that have begun rethinking success and relationships.”
Your 10,000’ perspective
Have you taken a break lately to reflect and get perspective on your life? As the New Year approaches let me encourage you to find the time to rediscover your dreams. We were all designed with a purpose and true fulfillment is found when you live out your purpose. To all of my Cofebuz friends, I truly wish you amazing success in 2010 and beyond.
The following article written by Tim Klabunde was published by the International Society of Weighing & Measuring.
“It’s not that I am cheep, it is just that I like getting a lot of value for my money.”
I believe many people feel this way when it comes to their marketing budget. We all want to figure out what is going to give us value when it comes to getting work in the door. To that end here is a list of the three “cheapest” ways to get more work.
- Existing Clients – Ever wonder why the cable company is always trying to up sell you a 100-movie channel package? It is because the least expensive way to bring in more revenue is to expand service to your existing clients. This same model is utilized in almost all service industries. So when you are looking to get more work in the door start by trying to solve more of your current clients problems first.
- Referrals – When I had the siding redone on my home this last year I received 3 quotes for the job. The most expensive was a national company, the least expensive was a company I saw on a yard sign in our neighborhood, and the middle bid was a referral from a trusted friend that had their siding redone a couple of years prior. I paid the extra money for the middle quote because I felt comfortable and trusted the advise of my friend. Did you catch that? The referral transferred the trust that I had in my friend into the company she endorsed! Firms that use referrals make more money and their clients begin the relationship with confidence in their ability to do the job right.
- New Relationships – Note that I didn’t say clients I said relationships. Clients are expensive to get, but a network is not. Networks of relationships in your industry allow others to provide you with leads that you can follow up on for minimal cost. Here are some examples: the attorney that passes along leads to an accountant; the brink layer that that tells the roofer what projects he’s working on; the civil engineer that tells the architect which developers are considering building on a piece of land. Your network can provide leads must faster and for less expensive than trying to find them yourself.
Time and time again I note that it is people that provide the biggest return on our marketing investment dollar. Whatever you do, however, don’t give up on your advertising budget. Advertising, networking, press releases, etc… are each only one tool in your marketing toolbox. Every marketing tool has its place and must be used appropriately in order to achieve true marketing success.
Relationships are the foundation of business. Whether it is relationships inside your company or outside of your company, relationships allow your business to either thrive or fail. Because of this, focusing on relationships is one of the most effective ways to improve your company and simultaneously build personal success.
Identify key relationships
Think about the relationships that you need in order to succeed. These relationships may include others in your company, your industry, or your circle of influence. Now take a moment to write down the top 10 people you need to succeed and rate the strength of those relationships. How you are doing? Are these relationships weak or are they strong? Most people will find a mixed bag: some relationships that are incredibly strong, and others at the breaking point. In order to succeed you need these relationships, so what can you do to ensure that these relationships are strong?
Do something about it
The best way to build a relationship is simply to help other people; not to return a favor, but simply because you want to build the relationship. Business relationships are often weakened by years of taking with very little giving in return. To strengthen a relationship all you need to do is help the other person without seeking personal gain. Some examples of this include: providing a contract lead to a client, turning your timesheets in on-time (for an overextended accountant), and providing timely information to others in the industry. The goal is to proactively work to make their life easier.
Why it Works
If someone helps you once you would appreciate it; if they helped you 10 times, you would develop a healthy desire to return the favor; if they helped you 30 times you would do every you could to help them in return. This is the foundation of a mutually beneficial relationship, a relationship where two people are consistently looking for ways to help one another.
Building a relationship that builds business starts when you selflessly help others. Who on your list do you need to help today?
I sat in my office this morning writing down a list of what makes our company different from our competitors. After a couple of minutes writing things like “quality, rapid response, and expertise in…” I quickly realized that I wasn’t writing down anything that truly differentiated us from our competition… or Visa, AOL, or HP for that matter.
After thinking about what really sets a company apart I started a second list focusing on what differentiates several successful individuals in our company from others in the industry. This time I came up with a much different list that noted such things as: honesty, integrity, openness, understanding, humility, and a desire to help others.
We often use the phrase “what goes around comes around” when we see good things happen to good people (or bad things happen to bad people); what we don’t often make note of is that this same rule applies to business and to companies. Successful companies in virtually every industry are building corporate cultures that embrace a moral centered workplace and values driven marketing.
What goes around comes around: Businesses thrive when they provide solutions to problems with honesty and integrity rather than serving the ‘almighty’ dollar.