Many years ago a client of mine offered me a position at his company. During his invitation, he asked, “Are you as approachable from 5pm to 9am as you are from 9am to 5pm?” I remember freezing at his question. I had no idea how to answer him (though I was pretty sure my answer would be “No!”). He explained that the leader he needed was someone who was approachable 24/7. Wow…I wasn’t sure what that even meant.
All the Time?
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My wife and I were entertaining thirty of her clients over a weeklong cruise. While it was not “my” event, it was clear that I was there as part of her team. Honestly, I found it challenging during certain points of the day to remain social. Hey, I’m human. Sometimes, I just want to be alone and read! I can’t be expected to be “on” all the time, right?
After the second reminder/nudge from my wife, I realized the importance of being present with people socially beyond the time I’d normally devote to it. Everyone (including me) wants and needs the affirmation of being connected and considered vital.
I’ve thought a lot about this experience since and concluded that in business, it’s important to establish and nurture relationships even when you don’t want to! Essentially, relationship building is about risking yourself and your image. And it’s worth it. Making this effort honors the person with whom you are connecting. The more you develop the relationship, the more you will be recognized as someone who cares, someone who listens, someone who is genuinely interested. You are far more likely to generate a mutually positive relationship that way. This is one of the secrets to living a healthy life. It is also the pathway to creating a successful/fulfilling business life.
Be in Action
So, what did I do with this newfound commitment to relationship building? I emailed a potential client last week that I’d been angsting over for too long, recommending that we meet. She declined for now but was excited that I’d reached out. You know what? I felt great after receiving her response. Why? Well sure…because it’s now off my plate and I’ve advertised my services to her. But more importantly, I invested some time building our relationship, letting her know that I was thinking about her and her business concerns. The result is that I’m closer to a new client from this action.
So, next time you are avoiding calling a client, not sending an introductory email, or being anti-social at a networking event, do the opposite and remember that you are always “on.” And that’s not a bad thing. Not at all.