Power of Relationship in Business

We live in an information age that gives us more access to more information than ever before. Our world has shrunk at the click of a button. In milliseconds, we can connect with people, thereby rapidly extending our networks.
There is an old saying in marketing: “No one likes to be sold, but everyone wants to buy.” The suggestion here is that the easier we make it to buy, the more we will sell. And now, the internet has put that on steroids. Business transactions occur so much faster and more efficiently than previously. But the question is has it gotten better? Does speed actually improve the quality of business?
On the personal side of life, it has had a hugely negative impact on people. Depression is at an all-time high, loneliness is pandemic, and although people have many more connections than ever, they have far less emotional connection. This is having a massive impact on work productivity, and I believe it has offset the benefits of the speed with which we do business. In others words, although sales may have increased, so has the cost due to missed work days and attrition.
Corporate culture suffers when everything is done remotely and online. Recently I was doing some Relationship Development work with a tech start-up. It was a great physical space with all kinds of modern touches. It was full of cool young workers. But something else in that office quickly became apparent. Even though they all sat in pods in the same room, their heads were buried in their tablets and screens. No one was actually talking or interacting; it felt like a library. When I asked if they ever communicate with each other, some answered that they do all the time, and were doing so right now. “But it’s so quiet in here,” I said. “How are you communicating?” The answer was that they had an app for that. They have an internal IM system where they dialogue.
My reason for being there was because of communication issues. (Hmmmmm) While fast-paced information sharing was occurring, there was no communication. If meaningful communication is not happening internally, it certainly will not happen externally.
Before you call me an old, out-of-touch, tech-hater guy, let me say I love technology and see it as a valuable tool; I use it all the time. However, it should never replace connection or relationship. There is power in meaningful relationships in business.
The power of relationship
Builds trust within the team, and with your customers. It communicates value. It can work through an issue much quicker than through email or instant messaging. My best friend and I met at work and we worked together for years. Our friendship and connection has far outlasted the work. We fully trust each other because we know each other. Even though we are now in different industries, we still call on each other for help, and refer business to each other twenty years later. Trust is earned over time, so when you take time to build relationships within your team and with your clients you will exponentially multiply your return on investment.
Creates opportunities. When companies sacrifice relational equity for the sake of technological shortcuts, it hurts the bottom line. The power of relationship is that it actually creates opportunity clusters that an online approach can’t. When you are known by your customers, they will make you known among theirs. Relationships have generated far more than just connections for me; they have created business opportunities. I got a call one day from someone who had a personal family relationship problem because one of my business clients referred him to me. Thankfully, I was able to help and because the personal impact was great, his wife later invited me to help her company through a difficult time when equity partners were at an impasse over an issue. That has led to not only more referrals but also to investment opportunity.
Brings satisfaction in business. In the foregoing story, I walked away feeling great about being able to impact the life of people and their business. Businesses talk a lot about solution-based selling, but solutions go beyond a product. It goes to a human connection. A sense of purpose in your work can elevate your efficiency, but a sense of solutions that help people elevates your sense of accomplishment. People want to work for a company that cares about them, and clients want to buy from a company that cares about them. I once asked someone why they loved the company they worked for. They said it was because they felt satisfied every time a client thanked them for making their life easier. Satisfied staff satisfies customers.
Improves culture. There are many things that create a great culture but healthy relationships are the fuel that makes them all work. I have seen companies that spend thousands, even millions of dollars, on perks and spiffs and team-building events internally, or discounts and bonuses to clients externally. However, without healthy relationships, the synergy gained by all those things suffers. It pays to invest in training and coaching that empowers people to build healthy relationships. This is especially true for team members who serve your clients directly. Investment in business and executive coaches can certainly help with skill development and efficiency, but engaging a relationship coach will help develop a vibrant and healthy business culture.
So at the end of the day, while technology can help in many areas, it cannot build healthy relationships within your organization or with your clients. Nothing can replace face-to-face connection because nothing can replace the power of relationship, and the most efficient way to build healthy relationships is to be present. The power of presence is that you can deepen the connection and increase trust equity, but that is another blog for another day.
Until then, remember “Relationship Matters.”