Nancy Sanders, Maricopa SBDC Regional Center Director
I’m sure you looked at that headline and thought, “We live in the dessert – what can we grow in the summertime except mosquitos and scorpions?”
But summertime is a perfect time to nurture your relationships with business connections and strategic partners. Remember you are in the relationship business. Not the contracting business or manufacturing business, or even the technology business. Your ability to build solid long-term relationships is the single most critical factor affecting your life, personally and professionally. If you are like most business professionals you struggle with developing and nurturing these valuable relationships.
And summer in the desert is the perfect time. The following three steps may help you keep the focus on growing your business when you may be thinking, “Everyone is on vacation.”
- Consciously plant seeds.
Sometimes you meet someone and you just know you need to know them. Or you want to know them better. But you get busy or caught up in the other tasks competing for your time, and you may ignore these promptings. Don’t do it! You may have just met your next life-long friend, client, champion or investor.
Many businesses do experience a slow-down in business activity, due to industry or family considerations. Now may be the perfect time to begin to grow that connection. Say, “I’ve been thinking about you and I’d like to catch up with you. Let’s get together for coffee or lunch.” Chances are, they feel the same way about you. And even if they don’t, your new connection will be flattered and may see you in a different light.
- Nurture your valuable seedlings.
To develop strong and meaningful connections we can’t just call our customers or prospects once a year, we need to stay in touch on a regular basis to build the connections we value. But what is regular? How often you stay in touch depends on your schedule, their schedule and how strong you want the relationship to be. This is the perfect time to re-connect. We are midway through the year, and your connections and customers may be ready to hear from you….to sign an agreement, be open to your pitch, or just ready to catch up and talk seriously about how you can both work together.
Remember, it’s not enough to just check-in and get caught up; we want to make a meaningful connection. Share a relevant article from the local newspaper or forward a blog that your contact may be interested in. Offer to make an introduction to your budding friend or share a tip or suggestion that may help with a challenge they’re facing. The point is to strengthen your relationship in a meaningful way.
- Enjoy the beautiful blossoms.
After the hot summer in Arizona, everyone decides to plant flowers and enjoy the colorful blooms. But since you’ve been nurturing your seedling during the dog days of summer, your “garden” will be well on its way to a bountiful harvest.
You may see referrals blossom. You might grow a new client or gain referrals or testimonials. You might get a new investor or get valuable input on your pitch.
Growing and nurturing these valuable relationships can be a slow process, but it’s critical for your business to thrive. Remember, whatever business you think you are in, you are definitely in the relationship building business.