The old saying “you can build a relationship for ten years and destroy it in a day” will always ring true, especially in business. Many even go as far to say that all business is simply managing relationships. And honestly, that is a tough one to argue against.
If you are in the process of building your start-up the most important skills you can possibly develop are the ability to communicate and build relationships. The best business plan or business model is never enough to gain support, the best product is never enough to bring in customers, and the best marketing plan isn’t enough to build brand loyalty. People have to know you, like you, and most importantly, trust you.
The ability to communicate and build relationships is indeed a skill we can develop and is not something you are simply born with. Anyone can be a master at communicating and building relationships. It just takes effort, time, and a willingness to put yourself out there.
Create Situations Which Allow Strong Relationships to Build
In order to start building great relationships, we first have to put ourselves in situations that allow us to do so. What do I mean? We need real face-to-face contact. In any Communications 101 course you’ll hear about information richness which describes how well our messages are received. Face-to-face communication creates the most richness because of all the different communication channels that exist: verbal and non-verbal.
We are far more likely to be remembered if we speak to someone face-to-face. They have a face with a name and message which will leave a lasting imprint. Email, phone calls, and social media never achieve the same kind of connection that a face-to-face meeting will. In a qualitative way, something as small as a face-to-face conversation and a handshake create powerful switching costs and competitive advantages for your business.
Manage Today’s Technology Wisely
The amount of business now done solely online is astounding. It facilitates and creates new possibilities, but
also creates its own barriers. These barriers present increased challenges for managing our communication channels. It also makes it easier for us to skip using face-to-face communication. New apps and programs help bridge this gap such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and other video streaming and calling technologies. We should use all technology to our advantage, be it text, email, instant messaging, etc. But we should always be able to recognize when a situation calls for an old-school approach. Recognizing such situations is as important of a skill as learning to communicate clearly.
We must be careful not to sacrifice too much for speed and simplicity when it comes to building relationships, especially in the start-up stages. Take the time to develop the ability to communicate and build strong relationships early on in your company. Center those early relationships on activities high in information richness such as face-to-face communication. This will be the best investment you ever make.