Relationships are key. We all look for flourishing relationships with friends and families but what about our relationships with suppliers? Customers? Colleagues?
“I was asked to speak about networking at a conference once. I just couldn’t do it. I much preferred to speak about relationships, the conference organizer agreed, and that is how Relationology was started.” Matt Bird, speaker at the recent common ground church business breakfast. The three major questions explored that morning were:
Why build relationships?
The business case is clear. Relationships help to drive better performance. They can speed up due process and increase growth. Many opportunities flow along relational lines. In addition, those who follow Jesus know that every person is made in the image of God and God has called us to serve one another. Not to gain and manipulate others, but in order to love them.
Who do you build relationships with?
Most of us gravitate towards those who are like us. It feels comfortable. It is easier. It is just not the best plan. It is in our diversity that we hear other perspectives that can be incredibly valuable. What if the best perspective is not your own? By moving towards those that are unlike us, we are more likely to identify blind spots and grab opportunities. Bird cited research into the importance of weak ties (acquaintances with those different to us) compared to strong ties (people like us). Are you committed to build relationships with others unlike you?
How do we build relationships?
Finally, Bird shared his strategy for building relationships and invited all attendees to happily steal his ideas. Collect. Keep. Grow.
Collect relationships by aiming to have one meaningful conversation every day. Don’t think networking at events, think one good connection time with someone unlike you.
Keep relationships by being meaningful in contact with people in your relational sphere. We were all encouraged to think of someone who had recently given us an opportunity and then asked to send them a Whatsapp message. The message had no agenda. It was just a genuine note of thanks.
Grow relationships by being vulnerable yourself and bringing your whole self to work. Perhaps that message of thanks could turn into a coffee or a lunch where you could get to know each other better?
Are you committed to collecting, keeping and growing relationships?
Relationships are key. I needed to be reminded and equipped with tools to get on with the task of connecting with the people that God has placed in my life.
Matt Bird has a website (http://relationology.co.uk/) and free resources that warrant further exploration.