Chapter 3 How to develop close relationships
The art of developing close relationships is key to a successful refer network. Close relationships are sometimes misunderstood, and here is a brief outline of what a close relationship means in refer networking. We will tackle this issue in two stages, the first will describe the roots of relationships and the second stage will present how to build relationships.
There are five types of relationships; romantic, familial, friendly, professional, and commercial. The differences between each type are identified by the type of connection sought between the people in the relationship. While the differences between the five are distinct, there are five underlying factors that all relationships are based on and these are the keys to success in building a meaningful relationship.
The Five Factors
All sincere relationships are based on telling the truth. When two people are truthful, then their flow is fluid. In refer, networks telling the truth will only strengthen and expand a person reach. One issue with Truth is hiding information, while in romantic and familial relations hiding information is considered untruthful, in refer networks and business delays it is a mandatory action of information security. A successful relationship will be based on the management of information, but the information being released must be truthful.
Integrity is both personal and professional. It is about how sincere a person is and how knowledgeable and adept they are in their professions. It is about how they act in their client’s interest and how they ensure successful completion of service, on time, every time. Integrity is your name when a client is referred to you; they should know that you provide both professional integrity as well as being a stand-up person. Integrity is something that is delivered by word of mouth, not by you, but by your contacts; it is something that is built up over time and is your “brand” or “image.”
This is your ability to provide continued excellence over time. It involved communications, professionalism, and completion of all contracts. Continuity means that you are constant and adamant in your approach to life and your relationship. It is when you set schedules for time with your contacts, developing relations for the long shot and not the one-time quickie use and throw away. The popular statement “you come to me when you need me” is used because most people do not maintain relations, they build them up and once they are used for reaching a specific target, are discontinued. This is detrimental to a successful refer network, and all relations should be maintained.
Building trust takes time, and it is based on being both truthful and maintaining integrity over time. It is the product of truth, integrity, and continuity. Once you have a trust-based relationship, you can leverage all your needs with this amazing commodity. Yes, trust is a commodity. Banks give billion-dollar loans based on trust. Trust is the strongest of all factors since it is actually a combination of all of them, but is also a factor by itself.
Empathy is when you show feelings as well as react to them. It is when you listen to your contacts heartbeat and not just his/her words. It is about becoming personal, showing interest in their daily issues and feelings. In some cases, offering advice even real assistance. Empathy is how you glue the other four factors together. While business and refer networks are about commercial connections, it does not mean that you should not take an interest in the client’s other issues. By being empathic and showing concern, you are breaking barriers and forging stronger ties.
A relationship can either be an alliance or a friendship. An alliance is when one person offers another an incentive, or when both provide an empathic response to each other. Friendship is when one person helps another without reciprocal incentive. The bond between a friendship is trust based and when broken is never repaired. The bond in an alliance is incentive-based, so long as there is a good incentive, loyalty will remain. Let’s have a look at forging alliances first. Refer networks are alliances, not friendships, they are aimed at creating incentive-based relationships, occasionally a friendship will happen, and that is a bonus, but not the focus.
Creating alliance based close relationships is a process where you forge alliances that are mutual to both sides. Uber and Lyft became a powerhouse of ridesharing because they understood the relationship of forging an alliance between a driver, a car, and a customer. Forging alliances is the best way to create a close referral relationship. Here are some everyday examples that go unnoticed but are in fact forged alliances;
Buying from one grocery store even when another might be cheaper because you know the owner. Sometimes the small differences in cost will not mean more than the personal relationship you have with the grocery store owner. However, this is a forged alliance based on an empathic or personal interface, and as such, if the owner/seller is replaced by another, the incentive to continue buying is lost. This is called forging an alliance based on empathy.
On the other tip of the scale are the membership plans that large retail outlets give their customers to retain their loyalty. The moment the incentives are less than the competitions, the customer will either open an account with the competition and leave the first or will balance the load between the two. Customer service is a major issue in incentive-based alliances. This is forging an alliance based on incentive.
Building Close Relations
Now we come to the real issue, how do we forge close relations that are not just incentive based. Relationship building is reciprocal, and it means that you must expect that the other side is either doing the same as you are, or exploiting you for gain, which is OK since you intend to gain too. These are actually six easy steps:
- Open Mind; always keep an open mind when dealing with people. There are many different cultures and interests that lay behind a person’s persona. You have to keep an open mind and study up about that person’s culture to understand them. Do not ridicule them or condemn them as a group.
- Learning about their culture; This is done in two ways, directly asking the person about their culture and interests, as well as reading up and learning about their national and cultural history. You will be surprised how quick a relationship is built when you know aspects of a person’s heritage that they usually think is not understood or known.
- Show interest; Don’t just show knowledge, also discuss interest’s hobbies and personal issues. You don’t have to discuss politics and sex; you can discuss sports, hobbies, art, and food. Food always opens up discussions and opens the way to many other subjects.
- Professionalism; This relates to the direct reason for connecting, it is the discussion of professional subjects. It is an interchanging of ideas as well as studying and researching new developments as well as being knowledgeable in the history of the profession. Some relations do not want to open up their personal sides, but they will open up their professional sides, being interested in what interests them professionally will help strengthen the bonds of the relationship.
- Courtesy/Respect; It’s all about respect. Showing respect and deference, being patient and smiling even when frustrated. This does not mean that you have to “eat shit,” it means that you have to show respect and be pleasant, but also be direct and stand on your ground. By standing your ground and showing backbone, you also get respect.
- Open Communications; this means that you are constant when chatting, discussing or greeting people. All alliances and relationships are based on a continuous dialog. By maintaining an open channel for communications, you are strengthening the bond between each other. One of the worst issues in any relationship is when one side is silent and does not update the other. This is a sign of disrespect and shows that the silent side has other objectives and purposes. If you want to make sure your alliance remains strong, be in constant contact, say good morning every day and don’t be silent.