In college, I had a professor who made it his mission to learn every student’s first name. At the end of the third week of the semester, he would go around the room reciting them; if he didn’t get your name right, he’d give you $20.
He taught two semesters a year with over 50 students in each class. Over his ten years of teaching, this meant that he’d learned more than 1,000 students’ names. Granted, there were probably a few repeat students in some of his courses, but that type of dedication takes a lot of work.
I remember someone asking him why he did this, to which he quoted from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
By adhering to this principle, he made his students feel valued. He also set himself apart as a professor who truly cared about his students and embracing relationships with them.
Here at Acceleration Partners, one of our Core Values is to “Embrace Relationships.” Similar to why it was one of the reasons so many students sought out my college professor, it’s also one of our most important engines for growing and maintaining a successful business.
Let’s take a look at three ways Embracing Relationships is good for business:
1. You Gain Understanding
People want to be understood. What’s more is that a lack of understanding is often a source of dissatisfaction — in all types of relationships. Cultivating and embracing quality relationships – in both our personal and professional lives — starts with our individual efforts to gain a clear understanding of our clients and partners, especially with regard to their business objectives and personal goals.
By embracing relationships, investing in people and always looking for ways to clarify, share and collaborate, you will be able to not only maintain relationships for the long-term, but have forward momentum as well.
Here are some helpful questions to ask and answer to encourage a better relationship with your clients:
- What are some ways you can infuse personal details into your interactions?
- What can you do to set up a face-to-face meeting with them in the near future?
- How can you become someone your clients can confide in?
2. You Build Trust
Trust is an imperative part of growing your business relationships. One of the most impactful ways to build trust is to show people you care about them. This starts with the first contact and builds through every interaction, plan and execution you’re involved in. At each of these steps, you will either build trust or damage it.
This doesn’t mean that you can never make any mistakes or express concerns. The authenticity of your interactions, the way you resolve conflict and the way you gain one’s confidence is what will build trust.
Something that AP does regularly is have our clients review our partnership with them. This provides the opportunity to recalibrate objectives and ensure that trust is continually and consciously strengthened and sustained.
Here are a few questions to ask and answer when evaluating whether you’re working consistently to build trust with your clients, colleagues and industry partners:
- Are you consistently delivering what you say you will, when you say you will?
- What are you doing to be responsible and accountable?
- In tough interactions, is your tendency to blame the other person or to ask, “What can we learn from this?”
3. You Create Value
Every relationship, however impactful or minor, has value. Relationships are multifaceted, they can help you get the sale, win the contract or, in the case of former Minnesota Vikings football player, Jim Marshall, help get you into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Marshall’s biggest advocate has been his former head coach, Bud Grant. Grant, now 90 years old, has been incredibly outspoken about his past player and the value he brought to the Vikings franchise. You don’t know when you initially invest in someone what the long-term outcome will be. Forty years after both of these men retired from the game, their relationship holds strong. Good relationships don’t have an expiration date.
Building and maintaining relationships will not only add value for your clients, colleagues and industry partners as well as help you grow as person. It may even open doors to key business partnerships and career opportunities.
Evaluate the value you add to your relationships with the following questions:
- What resources do you have that you could share with your clients/colleagues/partners that they don’t already possess?
- How can you share your expertise with your client beyond your everyday work?
- When was the last time you thought outside the box and were proactive?
Taking the time to become genuinely interested in the people you interact with will not only help you embrace relationships, it will make you feel more fulfilled and happier all around.
Learn more about our core values and our award-winning culture on our Company page.