Jerry Acuff is here to remind us that business always has, and always will be about building relationships.
What is a valuable business relationship?
The most valuable relationships, Acuff tells us, have lots of AIR - Access, Impact, and Results.
Access. People will take your calls, answer your emails, and believe that any time with you is time well spent.
Impact. You will have an opportunity to influence the relationship in a positive manner, and vice versa.
Results. Without it, you don't have a great business relationship, you have some rapport or maybe even a friendship. But not a successful business relationship.
When we have a valuable business relationship, people are proactively doing things to help each other succeed. Building them includes mastering a conscious, systematic and routine process. Having the right mindset, asking the right questions, and doing the right thing.
Having the right mindset
As Acuff says, to build any successful relationship, you must think well of yourself. If you can't see yourself having a relationship with a high powered executive, you can't have a relationship with a high powered executive. You also need to have a genuine desire to help other people. If you don't, the entire process of continuing to build relationships is going to burn you out, quickly. Relationships are built over time, and time is one of the most important elements of relationship building. Spending time with people is just part of the deal. The more time, the better.
Asking the right questions
The best way to make connections with people you are building relationships with is to find out what they treasure. If you know what and who people treasure, and you act on that information to show you know you care—they are much more likely to tell you what they need professionally. Here are some example questions to show people you care:
What do you do when you are not working?
How did you decide to do [whatever it is they do for a living] for a living?
Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up there?
Doing the right thing
Acuff says, relationships aren't built on your mind-set or the information you gather, they are built on your actions. Ultimately, you don't build them on what you say, but on what you do and how you do it. One way to show that you value a relationship is to give inexpensive, unexpected and thoughtful gifts based on information they have shared with you. Other things you can do to show you care about them is remembering important dates like their birthday or wedding anniversary, important family names, or special interests the person might have. Additionally, when it comes to the negative major events, most people turn away. If you are genuinely trying to build a real relationship, being there for them in bad times are opportunities to bring you even closer.