Relationships need to be built

February 18th, 2010

As a way of bringing the communication, listening, networking theme and the customer service theme together, I was thinking about the whole issue of business relationships.

As Andy(1) says “Connecting is not enough” and you have to build relationships in business. You don’t necessarily have a business relationship with someone, just because there has been one transaction or sale. I’ve just refilled my ink cartridges – the person who served me in the shop wasn’t there last time I went in and may or not be next time. However, I know the person who owns and runs the shop and, although I don’t buy a great deal from him, we know each other – by name and some idea of what we do. That’s building a relationship.

I’ve connected with lots of poeple on LinkedIn – the vast majority are people I already knew, or are connected to those who are and people I have met and we have then connected. There are a growing number with whom my only contact is via LinkedIn. We’ve participated in a few discussions or answered questions and shared thoughts and ideas and there are a couple who’ve been referred to me by someone else.

One of those in the last category was trying to get more from their LinkedIn profile and their contact suggesed asking me and I gave them a few tips. And then we connected. That’s it. Today, I received a note asking for specific business referrals for the work they are pursuing – I don’t know how many people it’s gone to, maybe it’s all of the contacts, maybe not. And I am feeling somewhat put out (far more than by the person who mucked up their diary and missed a meeting).

I don’t feel I have enough of a relationship with the person to refer or recommend anything to them, or understand anywhere near enough about what they do and want to do, to be able to do so. Maybe they’ve had success doing this with other connections but, for me, relationships need to be built over time, not always a long time, and a number of interactions. Have I missed something? Is it just about my personal preferences? What do you think?

Andy(1) is Andy Lopata; contact him at andy@andylopata.co.uk and he’ll send you his newsletter.

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