If someone were to ask you what makes a business successful, a few things may come to mind. You might say success is due to a unique and unforgettable product, great customer service, or perhaps financial backing.
However, while these points are all important, they are not the primary factors that drive success in business.
Why do job seekers go out of their way to present their best selves to interviewers? Why do salespeople seem to know exactly what to say to keep you on the phone? They understand the power of good relationships and how they impact business. It’s a proven fact that good business is based on trust and understanding.
Thus, the not-so-secret ingredient for success is building positive, long-term, and mutually beneficial relationships with others, both in the workplace and most importantly, outside of it.
Why Building Relationships Outside of the Workplace Matters
How do you build relationships that later turn into business opportunities? The short answer is you don’t.
You start by building a friendship.
Building a friendship is much more than sending a birthday email or a logoed promotional item to a potential business partner.
Instead of viewing people as transactions, there must be a mindset shift.
Behind every great business and company, there are people. People who have families and hobbies and everyday needs and wants. At the end of the day, hugely successful businesses are run by people just like you.
You may have all the drive, skill, and ambition in the world, but if you’re not making the right connections and developing relationships, your efforts could be futile. Just like in life, we rely on those around us to get us where we need and want to go.
In the long run, maintaining close trustworthy contacts will give you an edge.
3 Keys to Building Solid Relationships
So, as a professional, what relationships should you be investing in? How do you build long-lasting relationships outside the workplace? And finally, how do you ultimately turn these into business opportunities?
We'll address all these questions with the following points. Keep reading!
1. Be Genuine
The first step in building relationships is to truly strive to become friends, not just business partners.
How many times has someone shaken your hand only to ask you a work-related question?
It's no surprise that celebrities are known for broken marriages and empty friendships - they can't truly trust anyone's motives.
Have you ever wondered, mid-conversation, how this person could help you reach your work-related goals?
While these things happen, it is important to take a step back and realize this person is independent of their work, too.
While a particular individual could become a valuable asset to you in the future, you don’t know exactly how it will turn out or what it will look like. Instead, focus on the present, and the person in front of you.
Whether you meet on the golf course, at church, or at a work-related function, leave work out of the picture - at least in the beginning.
2. Ask Questions
How do you get to know someone? A great way to start is by asking questions. People love to talk about themselves, their families, and their successes. Ask about their passions and hobbies outside of business. Ask about their pets or favorite memories.
How did you make friends throughout your childhood? Usually there was shared interest and then you started to get to know them. The same principles apply in business relationships.
Asking questions helps show that you are interested in them as a person and aren't just in it for yourself or trying to use them for your professional benefit.
3. Position Yourself Well
Where do you meet people to build professional relationships with?
A great place to connect in a neutral environment is any sporting activity such as playing golf. Sporting events provide the incredible opportunity to spend hours networking while having fun.
I speak from experience! I primarily built my career through relationships I built on the golf course. Without golf, my now multi-million dollar promotional products company, Wearable Imaging, may not have achieved the success it has to this day!
Golf - Much More Than Networking
To help drive this point home, let’s look at an example from my career.
Early on in my career as an entrepreneur, I attended a charity golf tournament. At the tournament, I won a trip to visit the set of a popular CBS television show. While on set, I noticed images of a woman dressed in golf attire posing with various celebrities. As luck would have it, later that day, I ran into that same woman from the photographs and was able to strike up a conversation about our mutual love of golf.
That interaction turned into a friendship, which later developed into a 15-year business relationship in the entertainment industry! Since 2005, Wearable Imaging has provided all the promotional gear and cast and crew gifts for major television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, The Practice, and Ally McBeal.
You never know where your hobbies, such as golf in this example, will lead in achieving business success! All because I loved golf, I was able to build a relationship founded on common interest and the rest is history.
The Secret Ingredient to Business Success
It may take years for the relationships you build outside of work to be actualized. However, it will be worth the wait.
At the end of the day, success is great, but it’s relationships that truly matter. While material success can make a person secure and provide many comforts, it's really the people with whom you build lasting relationships that bring true meaning to life.
If you want to achieve success in business, start with building relationships and recognize that businesses are built on people. Then, go from there. Success will follow.
Want to read more about how to turn your relationships into a big business? Read more in my latest book The Golf Course Millionaire, available now on Amazon.