What have you done to #nurtureandgrow your business relationships?
When I “officially” launched my firm in January of this year, I sent a non-traditional “Happy New Year” email to a number of my contacts. It was by no means meant to be an exhaustive announcement to everyone I know. Instead, I wanted to make time to connect with them, in person, if possible, but a call would suffice. Sure, I wanted to tell them what I was doing this year (though, technically I started my firm last year, but that’s for another post), but I am genuinely more interested in hearing about them. This practice is typically one of the ways I have nurtured and grown my own business relationships over the years. As an Executive Coach and developer of leaders, I am genuinely interested in the people with whom I have worked. The joy I get from hearing the many wonderful things my colleagues are doing since we last connected is limitless.
So, for my inaugural blog post, I thought it would be great to share my three step process for how you can #nurtureandgrow your own business relationships. These techniques have served me well over the years. I hope they will enhance your business relationships as well!
Kameka’s Three Steps to #NurtureandGrow Your Business Relationships:
1) Assess –
The first step in building better business relationships is to assess who the people are with whom you have professional relationships. Likely, you have met hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people over the years. Think about it, you met people in school (high school, college and any post-graduate school(s) you attended). You have met people at work also. Depending upon the number of years you have been working and the number of organizations where you have worked, your list of current and former colleagues may be getting long. Then, there are the miscellaneous places where we meet people (this is the wild card group) – while traveling (for business or pleasure), at your place of worship, at your child’s school or extracurricular activities, at the gym, while participating in community service or local neighborhood activities, etc. The possibilities in the miscellaneous category are endless! Hopefully, you see where I’m going with this… You’ve likely met A LOT more people than you even realize! Make sure you jot them all down in a list.
2) Categorize then analyze –
Anyone who organizes data or information will tell you that one of the first steps you must do BEFORE you analyze any data is to categorize it. Think of a truly organized person you know, they likely have some categories that are standard for how they organize their lives. When thinking about how to #nurtureandgrow your business relationships, you must apply this same principle. Think about what your relevant categories might be first. Let’s say you have been working in the same organization for 15 years, you might categorize your list by area of functional expertise if the majority of the people on your list work at the same organization as you. You might have one category for accountants, one for IT professionals, one for health care professionals and another for project managers. Once you have determined that you have enough “broad” categories for the people on your list, begin placing the people on your list into these categories. When you finish, take a moment to notice what you see about your newly categorized list. Where are most of your relationships concentrated? How many people do you know and have relationships with that do something different than you? How many do you know that do the same thing as you? Start to take stock of where you might want to focus your time and attention as you start nurturing and growing your business relationships.
3) Action it! –
Now that you have started to notice some patterns or areas that might benefit from your time and attention, let’s think about how you will take action. Based on my experience, the “less is more” approach is what works best to get results. I recommend having no more than 1 – 3 concrete actions that you will take to #nurtureandgrow your network. As I mentioned at the start of this post, my one action for the start of this year was to connect with the people who received my email live, not just trade emails. This is where the nurturing and growing comes into focus - I asked WHEN we could connect in the coming weeks and months. It was a concrete action with a timeline. Announcing the launch of my company was a passive activity, so there would be no real way for me to nurture and grow my valued business relationships if I had just made a statement about that. My action is to ensure that I meet with people over the course of the year preferably over coffee or a meal, but where geography poses a challenge, a call will suffice. Unknown to the recipients of my email, until now, I gave myself a quarterly metric (number of meetings per quarter) so I can track my progress. I am happy to report that I am on track to surpass my goal for the quarter and we are just through the halfway point! Make sure when you decide on your action(s) for how you will #nurtureandgrow your business relationships that they are: 1) simple and realistic to achieve, and 2) have a clear metric that you can track over a defined period of time. You may decide to have one goal for the entire year or one goal for each relationship. There is no right or wrong with this. Have fun with it. The key is that you DO SOMETHING and that you hold yourself accountable!
There is a lot more that I can say on this topic, as I have been coaching individuals and facilitating workshops on this topic for many years. Simply start small and you will find great success as you #nurtureandgrow your business relationships! If you are interested in learning more about the workshops or coaching I do in this area, drop me a line. Until the next time, I’m cheering you on as you #nurtureandgrow your business relationships this year! Check me out on Twitter (@kdlssays) or LinkedIn, and let me know how you’re doing. I look forward to hearing from you!