You probably don’t expect the story of a rabbit statue at a Shinto temple in Japan to be the inspiration for an episode about the importance of deepening your business relationships, but here we are.
Relationships in business are often looked at as transactional. But what happens when we see relationships as valuable in their own right?
Why is that important for business?
So many of the lessons we are taught about marketing, about networking and about business development in general have a basis in the idea that what goes around comes around. There is an essential expectation of reciprocity, or that the relationship is a means to an end. The relationship is not seen as valuable in and of itself. When someone joins a close-knit business group, where the focus is on relationship-building, and begins to immediately cold call all of the members, it’s a turn off. They are missing the relationship aspect of business relationships and jumping right into asking for help.
Focusing on the relationship instead of the business is not about asking, “what can you do for me?”. Instead, it is more in alignment with the idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats” (or, as Jodi refers to it, the “boats, ships, water thing”.) This is about building something real, not saying, “hey, I was thinking about something that you could do for me”. The business may very well come from these relationships, but it comes obliquely, like happiness comes through the pursuit of meaning.
What would it look like to deepen your relationships instead of just sowing seeds for more relationships? How would it change your networking events to answer the ubiquitous, “who can I introduce you to?” with “whoever you think of that is cool; who has something to say; who contributes to the world in a passionate way; who has an interesting take on things”. Most people don’t want to think of themselves as a carbon copy of somebody else, broken down to their transactional value. Instead, look for people that you zing with, who expose you to new ideas with which to cross-pollinate.
We imagine the whole point of networking is meeting as many people as we can. But the real value is to reignite or deepen existing relationships. We’ve all sown more seeds than we could ever reap – we need to invest in tending to these relationships instead of sowing still more. We need a greater awareness of where we skim the surface, and where what we really need is to go deeper into the relationship that is already there.
What story do you want to tell?
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