Business relationships often fail even before they begin. Quite often, when you initially meet a potential new business contact, it is so fleeting that not enough thought or follow-through is given to structuring the relationship; something that is necessary to form a positive and mutually beneficial long-lasting relationship. Everyone has time constraints, and unless a clear business opportunity is foreseen, there may not be a second thought given to the new relationship.
Relationship Architecture requires that more forethought and specific planning go into forging a remarkable business relationship. If you lay the proper ground work, most likely, you will be able to ensure that the relationship is fruitful in one manner or another. How many business cards do you have in your possession or contacts in your Outlook with whom you have never followed up after that initial meeting? If you have met as many people as I have throughout my career, that number is mind-boggling. Over the years, I have squandered many initial meetings and did not invest the appropriate amount of time in each that I should have.
When I was with the Patriots, it got to the point where I was meeting so many people that I let myself believe there was no way I could remember everyone. Some introductions were smiles and nods, and I never even heard the person’s name or who they worked for unless the name or title triggered dollar signs. I let the numbers control me, instead of me controlling the process with preparation and follow-through. I don’t say this often, and I know you’ll be getting up off the ground after falling off your seat – but I was dead wrong!
Because the number of people I met was astronomical, I gave into the notion that I could never cultivate relationships with everyone. That was just pure laziness. Then one day, I realized my relationship-squandering ways and became determined to devise a system that would allow me to manage the volume and not let a single potentially valuable relationship fall through the cracks.
Here is my recommendation on how to keep a relationship organized from the onset. (My proof reader and wife, Patricia, recommended that when I cover topics, I should frame them as “The Ten Commandments” of that subject – and that’s not because she thinks I have a God complex. I think she has a solid concept and it’s a great idea – so here goes. Thanks, P!)
The Ten Commandments of Organizing a Business Relationship:
- Thou should always review the business cards of anyone met.
- Create a file on all those you meet and include contact and other essential info.
- Follow up with any person met.
- Honor your Relationship, and gather additional information about the person met.
- Thou shall not stop here.
- Create an in-depth profile on each individual met.
- Capture all information discovered through interaction.
- Send periodic notes to keep communication flowing.
- Surprise them with an invitation or by remembering something very important to them.
- Repeat 7 through 9 on a consistent basis.
The reasons business relationships fail from the onset is from not having either the desire or the mechanisms to ensure the relationship perseveres. I can’t instill the desire into you, but if you utilize these Ten Commandments of Organizing a Business Relationship, you will definitely have a system in place to support your efforts and success.
So it has been written, so it shall be done. Haha – ok, maybe that line is a bit overboard…