The power of relationships – keeping your networks strong
As business owners, many of our clients know that relationships are key and have a huge impact whatever the size and sale of the business. Wherever your career and your business are in their respective life cycles do not underestimate the power of relationships in your network.
In today’s competitive landscape it is crucial to develop and nurture personal and professional relationships and as Naomi Simson pointed out at our Business Owners event earlier this year that:
“Protection from disruption comes from relationships, especially with those who challenge us to greatness.”
Her advice was to cultivate relationships with those who have shared visions and values being great connectors themselves. Networking continues to be as relevant as ever, and the network you build of trusted contacts gives you more opportunities as a leader to influence and to be influenced. While technology has assisted in relationship management, it is a tool, and your network needs to be developed and maintained if it is to thrive.
There are so many different types of business relationships you have as a Business Owner and Leader. First and foremost are your client relationships, because without their support, satisfaction and advocacy you won’t be able to grow your business, so an obsession with customers must be at the heart of everything you do. You are aiming to move the relationship you have with your client to a collaborative, mutually beneficial and sustainable one, as opposed to doing the work, supplying the goods and services and moving on to the next one.
Finding out from your customers how you are doing feeds back into your business and its life cycle, and as you want long term relationships you need to invest your time. It does not matter how you ask for your feedback. The process can be a formal one through a client satisfaction survey or informal by asking during a conversation. Either way you do need to be able to address any issues or concerns they may raise. You do have to deal with the good and the bad while managing and exceeding client expectations so that they come to view you as a valued extension of their business.
Relationships and rapport with the people you employ to realise your vision is equally important as they will look after your customers and your customers will help look after your business. You’ll also be more productive and you’ll empower your colleagues to take more ownership if you delegate so prioritise your workload and decide what jobs to keep and which to give to someone else. Technical and commercial experience are vital, but in the ebb and flow of business it is your ability to lead, effect change, and leverage relationships to solve problems that give you an edge. If you know your employees and the ways in which they play to their strengths, you will be able to assign tasks to people that match their knowledge and skills which in turn empowers them.
Your role as an owner and leader is to create value for your business and you need to keep focused on the unique contributions only you can make, so surround yourself with people that can help make that happen internally and externally. Maintain the relationships you have with your bank and investors as you will need different types and levels of financial support as your business evolves -they also come armed with a different perspective on your business, and can connect you with like minded individuals.
Developing a sound relationship with those in your supply chain can help you source competitive prices, good quality products, and provide on-time delivery, all of which are forgone conclusions when dealing with today’s increasingly sophisticated clients. Relationships with peer and competitors can also keep you on your toes and give you industry insights you might not be privy to - knowing and loving both your company and the industry better than anyone else and not taking your business relationships for granted gives you your competitive advantage.