Be Friendly, Maintain Connections9/18/2012 10:00:00 AM
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|When I was a young kid in school, I had one major problem; I was a cut-up, and I was usually more interested in talking with my friends than focusing on my schoolwork. As a business owner, I am starting to think those traits are not the setbacks that I once thought they were. |
In business, relationships can make or break you — especially when getting business, maintaining old accounts and dealing with your suppliers. The older I get, the more I believe this to be true. No one likes to be anonymous, and most people respond well to a friendly face. Small things can also help, such as remembering names, sincerely asking how someone's day is going, or going a little out of your way to do something nice for a client or a supplier. Here is a short list of "friendly" rules that I use regularly:
Dan Faia, a teacher and mentor of mine at the North Bennet Street School, Boston, always reminds me to "bring a box of pastries to the wood yard guys." The point is, you do something nice for them, and they will go out of their way for you. They might not even remember your name, but they remember there is something in it for them if they give you a little extra hand.
- Always smile and step in for a good warm handshake.
- Remember names — it goes further than you think. If you are bad with names, remember something about them or a topic you talked about and ask about it next time you see them.
- Bring something memorable. For regular clients, suppliers and contractors, a box of freshly made cookies or a cup of coffee every now and then goes a long way. It doesn't cost much and gives them something nice to say about you when you're not around.
- Go beyond business. When you see or talk on the phone with someone, ask them how their day is going. It’s a good step to get beyond the regular chit chat.
- Say something nice about them — something you like, and it must be something that is true.
These opportunities are all around us — every day — and it is easy to let them slip away, as our days are rushed, or someone does not return our warm greeting. It’s okay to be intentional about this. You may find that after a few trips to the wood yard, bank, or architect’s office that those cold, stiff individuals you were facing before are softening and more glad to see you coming.
To me, my work is more than a daily grind. And my network is a lot more than just a list of names with numbers beside them. They are a group of associates and peers. They are extensions of myself who I have built trust with, shared myself with, learned personal details about, and who I know I can count on when I need them. I value these relationships because my job becomes easier because of them. And this has brought me new jobs, privileged information, great leads, and opportunities that would not have opened up without them. And if nothing else, I can go to work, and know that I have a whole web of allies, or at least smiling faces waiting for me each day.