It’s Not Who You Know, It’s How You Treat Them
We’ve all heard the popular cliche, it’s how what you know, it’s who you know. Like many cliches, it’s partially true, although we believe it’s both what you and and who you know. However, knowing someone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, if the relationship isn’t strong.
We like to say it’s not who you know, it’s how you treat them. If your business contacts don’t take your call, aren’t willing to lend advice, or don’t refer you or your company, that’s all you have: a contact. And we all know, having someone’s contact information doesn’t mean you know them.
Relationships take time to build — trusted ones take even longer — and they need to be nurtured and maintained. To borrow a phrase from Business Networking International, when it comes to strong business networks, givers gain. The more you give to a business friendship, the more you’ll get in return. So how do you make your contact list feel like a million bucks? Here are a few suggestions:
Delight Others – Look for little ways to show your contacts that you’re thinking of them. Clip and mail an article about their industry (or email a link) or company. When you come across info you think will help them in their career, send it along.
Recognize Their Accomplishments – Set up a Google Alert for your top contacts or their companies. When you see a mention in the press, an award they’ve won or other kudo, reach out with a call.
Ask How You Can Help – When it comes to strategic partners and referral sources, one of the best things you can do is ask “how can I make your job easier.” If you’re not sure how to broach the conversation, call and ask a research question: “What’s one thing you wish people knew about the work you do?” Thank them for the answer, and then ask how you can help. You may not be able to provide a solution, but as they say in sports, you have to show up to win the game.
Thank Them – Send a thank you note when someone is helpful to you or your company. If they took the time to answer a question or help you with an issue, they deserve your thanks – even when it’s not something above and beyond expected service. It shows you value their time, and the relationship.
If you want to move beyond being someone’s contact on the “who you know” list, make the extra effort to stand out from the crowd, and treat them well. Investing a little of your time makes the world a little brighter, and it pays off when you need some extra help of your own.