Business Relationships

In today’s age of acceleration, many long-held beliefs in the business world are being challenged. Old rules of collaboration are ceasing to work, and the advance of artificial intelligence is threatening the livelihoods of many people whose jobs are being automated.

In this accelerated, ever-changing landscape, how can your business not only survive, but grow and thrive?

Here are three tips for excelling amid the acceleration:

Tip #1: Focus on individual business relationships, not just large groups

In today’s distraction-packed world, it can be a challenge to hold the attention of a large group of people. And amid a sea of smartphones and shallow connections, deep and high-quality relationships are rare and valuable.

Never underestimate the value of deepening your connection with your top 50 business contacts.

According to a podcast by Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, business owners who have three or more one-on-one meetings per month give and receive twice as many referrals as those who do one or fewer one-on-ones per month.

People are far more likely to act upon a recommendation from someone they trust than they are to act on almost any other form of advertising, so a good referral partner is invaluable to your business.

I encourage you to make a shortlist of the 50 most important business relationships you want to cultivate, and to contact them at least once a month, whether it’s through phone calls, email, social media, Skype, or whatever method is best for both of you.

Tip #2: Be focused but flexible

You may have heard that a compass is more important than a map. A map is static and unchanging, but a compass always points toward its reference point.

In this fast-changing world, a changeless map is more likely to mislead you than it is to guide you to your goal. In the same way, rigid adherence to plans and practices can make it difficult for you to adapt, navigate around obstacles, and take advantage of opportunities.

But if you know where your “north” is – if you know what goals you want to accomplish – and you aren’t attached to the “how”, you can move steadily toward that goal, maneuvering around obstacles instead of being halted by them.

So be clear and specific about your goals, and always be ready to change your plans for reaching those goals according to the needs of the moment.  But, always, communicate your changes to all of your business relationships – inside and outside the company.

Tip #3: Lead your business, don’t micromanage it

In the fast-paced and demanding environment that the Age of Acceleration creates for businesses, micromanaging every step of your business and doing everything yourself isn’t a good use of your time.

It’s better to spend less time “leading” and more time “gardening” –  pruning hedges, watering the flowers, then getting out of the way.

Which is to say, find and cultivate the talents of good teammates and employees, determine which action steps you want your team to take, give them clear instructions, then let them do their work. If you do this, you will make sure that your internal business relationships do not suffer.

This helps you to avoid getting tangled up in the nitty-gritty details of your business, so you can keep a bird’s eye view of its growth and direction, give it a nudge when necessary, and look for opportunities for adaptation and growth.

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About Frederick

Frederick Geiger is a certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant. He learned marketing the by doing it in the real world in his business career as a software product manager and vice president of product marketing for a business to business technology offering at the turn this century.

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