Relationships equals currency
It is no secret. People don’t do business with business, but with people. In spite of our quick-fix world, where instant gratification has become the norm, wise and successful business people are recognising relationships as the most important currency needed to survive.
They have learned that it is not the number of contacts in your database that results in business referrals, but those you could convert into lasting relationships. Strong referral relationships are like close personal friendships. And friendships take time and sincere effort to build. Only in kindergarten does it take 5 minutes to form a friendship.
In an interesting survey published in 2018, the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships revealed that It takes about 50 hours of interaction to move a person from “acquaintance” to “casual friend.” It takes a total of 90 hours to become “real friends,” and 200 hours to become close friends.
Professional networkers believe in a Time-Confidence Curve that results in professional business referrals – i.e., once you have built a relationship of trust with a person, you are willing to refer business contacts to him or her, and will most likely receive the same in return. The more you know a person – his competency in his field but also his personal qualities and integrity, the more likely you will be to send business his way, knowing that your own name and reputation will not be harmed.
BNI, an international business referral organisation founded by networking guru dr Ivan Meisner, believes in a Givers Gain attitude – building relationships, helping one another to grow business and eventually reaping the fruits of sincere, deep relationships. Meisner believes that it takes at least a year to build up the kind of relationship that leads to really high-quality referrals in the business world.
A deep referral relationship requires a surprising level of personal knowledge and connection. This takes time and effort to build.
How deep are your current business relationships? Try asking yourself the following questions about people that share your business life.
What are the person’s background and experience?
What is his or her philosophy of customer service?
Do you understand at least three major products or services from that person’s business?
Do you know the names of their family members?
Have you asked them how you can help them grow their business?
Do you know at least a handful of their goals for the next year and beyond?
Would you feel awkward asking them for help with either a personal or business challenge?
Do you enjoy spending time with the person?
Can you have open, honest talks about how you can help each other further?
More often than not, the quality of your life depends on the people in your life – this could shape your future business.