Here’s a study that shows people and relationships are important

August 12, 2010

At first when I read this study out of Northwestern University, I wanted to say, “duh!” But then I realized that with all the PR and marketing newsletters I read, there is very little discussion about the role of relationships in PR and marketing. Even all this stuff about social media and its role in both PR and marketing tends to forget that at best what social media is is a way to further extend and deepen relationship building. At worst (and this is how it works mostly in my mind) it is a time drag that disperses scare energy and resources into a greatly increased number of shallow relationships, leaving less time to develop the deeper, more significant relationships that matter. I’m speaking on both the personal and business level.

Thirteen years ago I wrote a book called “Friendship Marketing” that focused on the role of strategic relationships in building business. The concept was pretty simple. I had discovered that most businesses I worked with as a consultant could identify a remarkably small group of individual people who were incredibly important to their business. So in thinking about making a business grow, it made sense to focus on those people who, if you had the in-depth relationship with them that was of mutual value, could propel your business to new levels. The problem with this approach is that it is easy to slip into manipulation (the Amway problem). I call you up for coffee and you discover my hidden agenda is not to spend time with you as a valued friend but to sell you something or to get you to help me with my goals. The answer to that, and I saw this repeatedly in successful people and businesses was the transposition of value. In other words, if I place value on someone else because of what they can do for me and my business, I cannot help but be manipulative. On the other hand, if I see my work, life and business as the opportunity to get to know some amazing people, a few of whom might just be great friends regardless of any value they offer to the business, then the whole picture changes.

Think of it this way: when you sit on your rocker contemplating the joys and successes of your life, will you think about the great contracts you signed, the yachts you owned when you had the energy to get on them, the fancy cars you drove and expensive meals you indulged in? Or you will think fondly of the great time with people who meant so much to you as you journeyed through this land called time? Profits, as the great Peter Drucker said, are the right to do business in the future. And doing business continues your opportunity to grow relationships that are the true measure of a great and successful life.

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