Back to the Future!

Relationships — Back in Business

Business Relationships

Authentic Relationships

Social Media provide new, and perhaps more efficient, tools for communication, but remember what they are for! Social media is bringing relationships back to business.

An interesting article in Search Engine Guide reminds me of the movie, Back to the Future. In her post, “How Social Media (Didn’t) Change Business,” Jennifer Laycock points out that “Smart Companies are in it for the People.” She says:

Social Media is not some amazing new concept that’s changing the way we do business. It’s simply amazing new technology that’s allowing us to return to the way people USED to do business. In the last fifty years we’ve gone from business being done the way my grandfather did it, to business being run by multi-national corporations who view you as a billing number and who you pick based on price. In the last five to ten years, the Internet has opened things back up.

Social Media gives you, as a small business owner, the tool to make and build relationships with people all over the world. The trick, is to focus on the relationship and not the sale. People are happy to buy from people they like and trust.


How to Create Effective Business Relationships

Credit for the image above goes to the blog, “,” in which authors Randie Rabideau and Marisa Ferrara wrote:

“Relationships of all kinds are often perceived as very delicate. The ability to create and/or maintain positive and effective business relationships requires extra effort. For example each member in a group or organization, has a different set of skills and beliefs based on their past experiences. This has a direct impact on the expectations they have regarding how they feel other members of the group “should” fulfill their individual roles and function as a team.”


Leverage is the Key to Success

The key to success in any business is LEVERAGE. Leverage comes in many forms. Leveraging “social capital” is my favorite! When you leverage relationships, we call it  ”networking.”  Through networking you can also leverage knowledge, resources, and contacts. Most importantly, you can leverage trust and influence!

Leveraging  “social capital” is a safer bet than leveraging money. In many situations it is “who you know that counts.” I always add that it is also “how they feel about you that counts!”

It takes time and attention to cultivate a relationship, like growing a garden. The wise person invests deposits in emotional bank accounts proactively well before the need to withdraw!

I am NOT suggesting that you invest in a cold and calculating way. The best (and most valuable) deposits are made without any thought of personal gain. Don’t keep score! Sincere compassion and interest in other people is most effective. The way to earn social capital is to simply care and share what you have to give. It also  makes you happy. “Make someone happy, and you’ll be happy too!”

Centers of Influence

Kevin Hogan writes about “The Center of Influence” in his blog called “The Resource Center of InfluenceCenter.” Here is an excerpt from his provocative article: (image credit to Kevin Hogan)

What most people who try to “be influential” miss is that they often tend to focus solely on the “Value Model” of Marketing or Selling. In other words – that people buy for value. This, of course, is a useful model. But in the strictest sense, it breaks down.

In my previous post, “Social Media ROI and Influence Marketing,” I quoted Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella.  In their upcoming book on “Influence Marketing,” they point out that “marketing efforts developed with a focus on generating profits often fail to consider the customer experience (italics mine) and ends up negatively impacting the generation of revenue and/or profit.”

Social influence occurs when one’s emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by other Influencershuman beings. Some people are more influential than others, both in terms of the quantity of people in their sphere of influence and the personal power of their affect on others.

Way back in 2008, a long way in internet time, Paul Gillin wrote the book pictured on the right.  Paul was a visionary who understood that the marketing game had changed.  The Canadian blog, “One Degree,” described connecting with social media influencers as “The Internet Marketer’s Secret Weapon.”

Relationships with leaders who are “centers of influence,” can empower us to take social networking to a higher level.  The “No-Nonsense Networking” blog says,

“One of the most important concepts in business networking is the idea of “Centers of Influence.” What is a Center of Influence or “COI”? A COI is a person who is in a position or business that tends to have great influence with prospects in your target market. These people have great potential to be among your best referral sources.


 Acquiring Influence with Influential People

After connecting with “influencers”, remember to make a friend, be a friend.

The Senior Market Advisor blog has a helpful post about “Finding Your Centers of Influence,” including the following advice:

“To produce a meaningful, steady stream of referrals, you need 12 “core” COIs and about 100 potential COIs. A center of influence is a person who sees or knows a lot of people, must like you, and is willing to help you succeed. Those core COI people are the ones you’ll take to lunch regularly.

In his excellent blog, Personal Development for Smart People, Steve Pavlina wrote:

To escape mediocrity requires that you surround yourself with the exceptional. Steal time from your mediocre relationships, and invest it in building new relationships with people you find extraordinary. Join clubs and organizations you’re just barely qualified to join.


Apply for a job where you’ll be surrounded by highly competent people. Join a gym that intimidates you. Volunteer for assignments that allow you to work with higher caliber people, even if you do it for free.

Once you meet such people, find ways to do favors for them. Give, expecting nothing in return. Build the relationship first, even if it seems very unbalanced in the beginning.



Beyond “Contact Management”

Contact Management Provides a Frame of Reference

“Contact Management” is like accounting. It helps to keep records, but we hope it serves to guide our performance. CRM software and web sites for organizing contacts in the cloud can help. However, actual engagement and interaction with our contacts is what really counts.  Contact ManagementCredit for the image here goes to Zoho, which offers an internet based contact manager.

My definition of networking is: ”leveraging trust and influence.”  We need to gain trust before we can leverage it. It takes a long time to make an old friend! Trust and influence are cultivated over time and are based on experience with the friend’s past performance. It is like building credit. Sometimes difficult challenges help you find out who your real friends are!

If all we did at a live “speed networking” event were to collect business cards, we might be better off with the Yellow Pages directory. It would save us time and money, and it would have an organized index! Have you ever looked at your stack of business cards and wondered who were those people? Do you realize that they’re wondering the same thing about your business card?

Can the Internet Accelerate Influence Development?

Certainly the internet enables us to contact many more people than we could possibly contact in “real life.” My question relates to how we can build trust and cultivate relationships and influence with those contacts.  

Relationships are based on shared experiences, reciprocal value exchange, and emotional rewards. I wrote a previous blog post about “Social Media Deposits in Emotional Bank Accounts,” in which I said, “it is wise to be proactive in making deposits before the need to withdraw arises, because emotional “withdrawals” are often unexpected accidental emergencies!” When you need a friend who “has your back,” it may be too late to make an old friend.

Engage and Interact

In my post called, “Engage and Interact to Build Relationships Online,” I wrote,

Relationships online are formed by engaging in conversations and interacting. Commenting on another person’s posts or status updates is just as important as posting your own content. Following up and responding to the comments of others gives them attention and recognition, which are important human needs.

If you want to win friends and influence people, it is actually more effective to be interested than to be interesting! Listening and “paying” attention is a usually a profitable investment. Commenting on blogs, like this one, is another good investment! 😉   Notice the  “Comment Luv” plugin below. We might become real friends and allies!