- Berni Hollinger
- Employee Relations
Building Solid Relationships
- Berni Hollinger
- 21 July 2016
It can be said that without strong relationships, it is impossible to be successful.
Theodore Roosevelt said:
“The Most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
No one stands alone, we need customers to purchase our products or services. We need employees to help us sell and deliver it. We need business partners such as bankers and vendors to help us run our businesses efficiently and profitably. These are the relationships in our business lives.
Every time we meet someone it is giving them – and us – the opportunity to interpret and evaluate. Is this someone we want to know better? Will they help us or hinder us in our goals? Each contact is a chance to market ourselves and move our agenda forward.
I read a story recently that talked about a business owner that had fallen into the trap of neglecting some of his business relationships. But it wasn’t that he didn’t care about those relationships. It’s just that he got so busy that he didn’t realize how much time had gone by where he had not checked in with several of his contacts–an easy mistake for most small business owners who feel like every day is shorter than the last.
One of his customers had a contract that was coming up for renewal. He contacted her and asked to take her to lunch to discuss the renewal of the contract. The customer responded that she wasn’t sure if she was going to renew the contract. The business owner asked if there was a problem with the product or customer service. He was assured by the customer that there was no problem regarding either.
However, she felt he only called her when she had a project ready to go or her contract came due. She felt that the owner did not truly value her and was using her only for her business. She informed him that she felt that there was no interest in her business or needs.
Every time we interact with one of these relationships, we have an opportunity to create a great first impression It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time we are meeting someone or if it is the 100th. Each time we interact with another person we have cast that stone into the water and the ripples begin. Only time will tell how far those ripples will go – or where.
There’s a well-told adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression. From personal relationships to business meetings, we’re taught that people form opinions of us in a few moments, and that we should be ready to show our best at all times.
That’s not always the case. We all remember times when that first impression with someone hasn’t been all we’ve wanted it to be and how we struggled to overcome it.
In our society, we put a great amount of energy into helping people form good first impressions, from crafting perfect elevator pitches to touting the importance of a firm handshake.
There’s more to a first impression than the perfect smile and handshake. You’ve probably heard most of them:
- Maintain eye contact
- Keep an open face – don’t frown or grimace
- Good body language – don’t cross your arms or slouch
- Don’t boast or name-drop
- Use the person’s name – let them know they matter
I want to add one more thing.
Listening. Specifically, listen more than talk.
Steven Covey said:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Every time you introduce yourself and become part of the conversation you are either adding value or taking up space. Learn to listen and ask questions. When it comes to first impressions your questions matter more than your answers. The goal is to get off trite topics and get on a role together.
I hate talking or asking about the weather. It seems like if that’s all we have to talk about we have nothing in common. My husband used to call his mother weekly when we lived out of town from her. Each week, without fail, one of the first words out of her mouth were: “What’s the weather like?” My husband always felt she didn’t care enough to talk about anything meaningful – only about the weather.
It’s the same when we are talking to others. Be part of the conversation. You don’t need to give advice or solutions or have the answers. Sometimes the best advice and help you can give someone is just asking questions. It gets them thinking about other directions or clarifies it in their minds. Pretty soon, you’ve become someone important to them and you have started a new relationship.
Berni Hollinger helps companies solve problems through Leadership Training, Interim Leadership consulting and Restructuring. As a professional Training Instructor and CFO / Controller, she sees things differently. As a highly experienced CFO, Controller, Accountant, and Financial Consultant, she has led financial departments for Fortune 100 companies increasing bottom line growth and compassionately leading and training employees and restructuring processes to maximize profitability in the publishing, printing, subscriptions / fulfillment, manufacturing and transportation sectors. She is a Professional Quilter, and Quilting Instructor, creating lasting memories through exclusive designs of one-of-a-kind memory quilts.