We’ve all experienced the six degrees of separation in work and in our personal lives. We’ve seen jobs offered, deals made and business exchanged because of connections. Who you (may) know is the basis of LinkedIn and most social media. In conference and event world, we pride ourselves on the necessity of networking. After all, it’s all about who you know, right (or hopefully, who you meet at a conference)?
Or is it? A connection might get you a phone call answered or a meeting arranged. But what happens next comes down to relationship and results.
I thought public relations epitomized the who-you-know philosophy, but I’ve quickly realized sealing the deal goes far beyond an initial connection. You can make something happen on a cold call, but if you haven’t established a relationship with that reporter, client or business partner, it will be short-lived. The same is true to get attendees to return, maintain great service at convention centers or nab the best speakers at your event.
It’s actually all about how you treat those you know:
1. Be authentic. When the focus is what we can get from someone, the relationship will always be transactional. Never walk into a business meeting again. View appointments as an opportunity to get to know someone—whether it’s helpful for business or not—and both your perspective and his receptiveness may change.
2. Over deliver. The bottom line is still the bottom line. Relationship or not, if you don’t exceed expectations and deliver results, you’re just friends in the end (hopefully, if you started with step No. 1).
3. Be honest. Be upfront about expectations and disappointments. Respond quickly when things don’t work out and a real relationship can withstand good and bad times in business.
How have personal relationships within your industry been beneficial to you? What rules do you live by to keep them from becoming transactional?