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Success through relationships

daveotc21Assuming you’re ever on a death bed (as Jerry Seinfeld quipped, “why would you ever buy one of those?”) taking stock of your life, the criteria by which you measure success will be relationships.  Relationships with God, family, and friends.  And, probably nothing else.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that nothing trumps relationships, and that’s true both in your personal and business life.

Here’s a few thoughts about that:

  1. Relationships require investment.   
  2. Relationships require humility.
  3. Relationships are one on one; Facebook is not a relationship. 

Author Malcomb Gladwell in his book “Tipping Point” says that our electronically interconnected world has had the effect of renewing the desire for personal touch.  Gladwell says that we are re-entering (I’m not convinced we ever left) the age of “word of mouth.”

Think of this in your own life.  All of us are inundated with marketing messages every day in various forms.  We’ve developed filters, almost an immunity to them.  But, if someone whom we know well and trust tells us about a restaurant or a movie, we give that recommendation instant credibility.  That’s the power of a relationship. It does, trump all other marketing.

Jeffery Gitomer, author and business coach wrote “The Little Black Book of Connections” some years ago.  I’ve read it several times, and have even given copies to friends.  In addition to his book, Gitomer has written numerous blogs on the subject.

Here’s a few highlights from him:

  1. Make the focus of the relationship the other person, not you.  No one wants to be used.
  2. Don’t worry as much about customer satisfaction, as about customer loyalty.  This is huge.  Loyalty requires a relationship.
  3. If you lose a job to a current customer to a competitor on price, it means the competitor has a better relationship than you do.
  4. If you think you will make a sale because you have the best product, price, or service- you’re kidding yourself.  50% of sales are made on the basis of friendship. 

So, how do you start to build relationships?  Slowly.   Harvey Deutschendorf suggests:

  1. Learn to be a great listener.  Everyone wants to be heard and understood.  We naturally bond with people that really hear us, and we want to spend time with them.
  2. Ask the right questions.  Be sure you understand them by digging deeper.  One way is to say, “if I understand you correctly, you said… ”  When others sense that you’re sincerely trying to understand them, then tend to open up.  This deepens the relationship.
  3. Pay attention to the whole person.  We tend to remember and appreciate people who ask us if everything is OK, even if we haven’t told them anything is wrong.   It tells us that they are paying attention to us.
  4. Remember things that are important to them. People will tell us what they value, if we just listen.
  5. Manage your emotions.   People who tend to have mood swings have a hard time building deep relationships.  Erratic shifts in mood tend to push people away.  If this is a problem for you, work on it.
  6. Share your story, but only when the time is right.   We all know people that begin sharing intimate details of their lives before we’re ready to hear it.  Pace yourself, and wait till the right time.   IF you have an experience that relates to the other person’s experience, it’s usually good to share it.  But, here’s a caution; don’t upstage their experience with yours.
  7. Be genuine and fun.  People enjoy being around positive people who are comfortable in their own skin.

Finally, go places and do things.   Don’t give a customer a ticket to a ball game, take them to a game, and if possible, take their family.

Gitomer suggests an I-Max movie for the whole family.  And do NOT bring up business there, unless they do.

Don’t have time for all this relationship building stuff?  Then maybe you’d better find a mundane job where it doesn’t matter.  Because in every significant job, it does.


Eddie Mayfield