In tough times, we often seek to reconnect with and deepen the most positive relationships we’ve developed over the years, in both our personal and professional lives. You want people you trust in your corner when the chips are down… and renewing those bonds provides a source of both comfort and strength.
In that same way, I’ve recently had the great fortune to reconnect with several clients we’ve worked with in the past. Many companies and organizations are facing funding cuts and slow(ing) sales in this economy, but when projects come up, they want to work with people who get what they’re about, and who they trust to provide value when resources are stretched thin.
Each one of these conversations has reinforced how important relationships are in what we do. You can offer a great product or service, but what keeps people coming back again and again is the connection you build with them over time—the shared experiences and vision that trump all else.
I recently had lunch with someone I’d worked with years ago, and our conversation soon turned to a discussion of past projects. But what I quickly noticed was that we were speaking less about the projects than we were about the people.
“She’s such a wonderful designer and always showed tremendous grace under pressure.”
“He is so smart in his approach to design thinking, which raises the bar for everything for us—it makes you think!”
“I always feel respected and listened to, and that is so key to a successful partnership—with anyone.”
“He knows how to listen.”
We didn’t talk about budgets. We didn’t talk about proposals. We didn’t talk about plans.
We talked about people. We talked about relationships. We talked about stuff that would never show up in an estimate… but made all the difference to the success of the project.
What’s underneath is what sustains. There will always be people who can compete with you in terms of offerings, but are they taking the time to care and build a connection?
So, to answer the question in the title over this post, it’s the power of…
Smart, thoughtful approaches to both everyday and extraordinary challenges
Grace under pressure (and a sense of humor never hurts as deadlines loom)
Resourcefulness, accompanied by a sort of fearlessness: the proverbial “whatever it takes” attitude
Comfort in the reality that someone is looking out for your best interests
If, in today’s tweeting, blogging, always-online world, a brand is a mosaic—then isn’t a successful relationship also a mosaic, where different pieces of the puzzle shine at different times, and the whole is truly greater that the sum of its parts?
What is it about the relationships you’ve built over the years that makes them last?
And what do you value the most in those with whom you work?