It's an interesting question and one which I have recently been thinking about, a lot more than I normally would.
As a networking believer, which is probably a good thing, given my position; (Would'nt it be funny if I did not believe in networking - no not really!!!!), I feel that "good business" is all about starting, building and maintaining a relationship. It mainly applies to longer term business, but I also believe it applies to transactional business as well.
Relationships are all around us. We have them in our persoanal lives, family, friends, spouses and partners; (be careful of the spouse and partner thing at the same time, as it is not a good mix as some of my old flying buddies have found out!), and it is often difficult to manage them. With the bonds we create, if we sometimes cause damage, we can repair them, move forward and learn not to make them again. The people close to us, tend to remember the mistakes we made, and while forgiving once, (unless the mistake is one they could never forgive), they may not forgive a second time.
But are business relationships the same?
This question has been sitting in the back of my mind for a few weeks. The cause, a recent large corporate job that we lost for no apparent reason. The job, we had done for several years; built a great relationship with the client and also the clients that they invite. So much so, that I actually had dealings directly with the invited clients and was usually asked to attend the day as a guest. We had never had complaints, knew the job well and had always been willing to help.
Then out of the blue, a slight staffing change and the relationship changed. Suddenly, we were treated different. The job specifications changed and we were told that they had a cheaper price than we charged previously. Our requests for the final specifications were not forth coming and when we said we could not provide a price until we had the full specifications, we were told our services were not required, interesting.
I had made several attempts to get the specifications, even using the presure of time, as I was due to go on holidays soon. My last request, provided my date of departure, and at the 11th hour, I was granted a meeting; the only time available was the day after my departure. "The writing was on the wall".
The job went ahead and one of the attendees invited me as usual. The product supplied was inferior to what we had previously supplied and a few of the items promised, were not even delivered. A few of the attendees were not happy, but promises to complain may be forgotten. My concern is, it was never really advertised that it was not us who supplied the product!
Anyway, this is not a gripe on my part. My interest now, is to analyse the effects on the relationships we had.
The first one is with the direct client. By their behaviour, I would say our relationship is damaged. Is it repairable, maybe not. But what is then the flow on effect?
The client, while not realising it, may have now damaged their relationship with their own clients. But by doing so, will the flow on effect, damage our relationship with these clients, by association and lack of information. Will the problem be directly attributed to us? Addiditionally, if the cleints find out it was not us, the question will be asked, "what did we do wrong to not get selected? "A great question, but the only one who will have the chance to answer it, will be the client who decided not to select us. So how do we convey that we are as much "in the dark' without it sounding like "sour grapes"? Do you approach the attendees directly and further damage the relationship with the client who did not want us?
So, to what length do you go to protect a relationship in business?
It is vital to stand up in business and believe and build trust in the relationships you form. We have to always think that while we might not worry about a damaged relationship with one person, what flow on effect can it have on other relationships. The old adage; Do the right thing and they will tell one other person. Do the wrong thing and they will tell 100.
While it is a bit of a delema, and we can only stand by the reputation we have delivered in the past, I know we must tread carefully. My hope is that the attendees will protect our reputation, (as they have known it), for us - good old word-of-mouth. But it is something we must all continually think of.
Enough of relationships.
For those of you who attended "Ready, Steady, Grow" last week, how good was the night? 4 fabulous speakers and the special guest speaker, not only humoured us, but gave us all some great business thoughts and facts. Thanks must be passed onto our panel and guest speaker and for all of you who attended.
If you listen to many of the very successful business people, you need to continually educate yourself. For those that missed the event, you missed out on gaining a first hand insight to 5 very successful business people; the mistakes they have made and the way they took the GFC head on and grew to the success they are in today.
We had some great emails about how good the event was. If anyone would like a free plug for their business, please send your emails, telling us how great the events are, to Tracey in the office at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them up on the web site. All emails will be posted, so it is a great way to let us know what you think and get a bit of free advertising.
So enough of my thoughts.
I'm looking forward to seeing you all at the Melbourne Day Debate on the 27th August. It is shaping up to be another big hit and already 2/3 of the seats are sold, SO PROCRASTINATE AT YOU'RE OWN PERIL. Over the last few years, I have not left this day without sore stomach muscles from laughing so hard. A tough gig to back up with the closing speech after the very funny and talented debaters we have had.
Stay warm and dry, (if you can) and we look forward to seeing you all soon.
Keep up the good business networking as, to pinch a phrase from a well known brand, "You know it's right. - I'm Dave King." (Thanks for the lend of it Sam!)