I’m headed to our nation’s capital in a few days for a summit on fostering collaborative relationships within government entities that serve small business – how did I get into this? Inducing collaborative relationships is not rocket science – seriously. Here are some things I have learned about building relationships in today’s business environment.
- Give away your knowledge. (Traditional Marketers GASP). The number one thing a business can do for a customer – educate them. It is no accident my 5-year old has a crush on his teacher. She is his conduit to learning. Teaching evokes loyalty. Companies spend millions in advertising their products and services to convince the public to buy from them because they are the “experts”. What if they spent those dollars educating consumers instead? The result would be customers who trust the company to provide information they need to make a smart decision. The consumer’s “informed decision” is more often than not to buy from their teacher. Hubspot is an online digital agency that works with small business owners. They teach, teach, teach and gain loyal clients along the way. In November 2011, Hubspot was ranked the 8th fastest growing company in the U.S.
- Be a leader. Understand that management and leadership are not the same thing. I am raving fan of Seth Godin www.sethgodin.com. In May 2011, he spoke about the difference between management and leadership. The video plays in my head constantly because it provides clarity on leadership. “Leadership is about finding the right people, agreeing on where you want to go and getting out of the way. Leadership means embracing the failures of your people if it leads to growth. Leadership means not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow, just knowing it’s going to take you where you want to go.” Watch it here: http://michaelhyatt.com/seth-godin-on-the-difference-between-leadership-and-management.html So if collaboration is where you want to go, then you have to trust you will get there by leading the way, not being worried about your section of the sandbox. Today’s business world rewards creativity, courage and guts.
- Be honest. James Altucher, whom I consider the “shock jock” of social media, wrote a blog post in October 2011 that also hit home. He said, “Life is a series of failures punctuated by brief successes. That’s honesty. Failure is not necessarily bad. It’s reality.” http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/10/7-things-happen-to-you-when-you-are-completely-honest/ Don’t be afraid to share failures – they are the milestones of experience.
Simple steps lead to productive collaborative relationships. You just have to deal with, get over or lose the fear of failure. Buena Suerte.