I was having a great chat the other day with the founder of Canadian Small Business Women. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this story. The chat meandered from topic to topic but was memorable because as I thanked her taking time from her busy schedule to meet with me we both commented on the value of investing in developing relationships, even those that appear to have no immediate benefit. Dwania and I met at an event I covered for the local paper but I instantly recognized in her a passion for what she does and knew I wanted to get to know her better. Lucky for me she agreed and we’ve been developing our connection ever since. In doing so, the mutual benefits are becoming more evident each time we meet. I also shared with her my experiences with forward thinking coach and mentor Tammy Elliott, who continually reminds her Forum participants to reach out and build relationships with others. Throw into the mix my personal mantra of reciprocity and the theory of the “Three R’s” began to take shape. Recently, I wrote about another set of “R’s” but this conversation prompted me to blog about “R’s” again only this time they are: “Relationships, Reciprocity and Referrals.” We’re all familiar with the business cycle but the “Three R’s” are a business circle, one that can only benefit and enhance your bottom line.
Why practice the “Three R’s” in your business? Well, in any relationship whether personal or professional, I would suggest building relationships is equally challenging and important. Choosing to invest your time, energy and (in business, often your hard earned cash) with a particular business and the people who run it can be a decision fraught with anxiety. You’re relying on this relationship to provide a service for you, whether its supplying you with a website, tiling your kitchen floor or providing all the accounting services for your rapidly growing new business. Whatever the case is, the relationship you develop with the provider is crucial. Are they open, friendly and responsive to your needs? Are they respectful, consistent and reliable? More importantly would you want to do business with them again? If you wish to be the recipient of this kind of service you have to govern your own actions accordingly and work hard to develop relationships where such expectations are mutual. If this is your guiding mantra, relationships will develop naturally and referrals and reciprocity will certainly follow. Even if you met at a networking group and your businesses seem disparate and unrelated I would urge you to take the time to build a relationship. It’s amazing when you work at a conversation how small the world becomes and how often (think 6 degrees of separation) you will discover mutual connections. Building one relationship often in turn has far reaching effects on existing ones. Before you know it you have a circle of connections from which everyone potentially benefits.
Building solid relationships in turn leads to the “Second R” – Reciprocity. Reciprocity simply means returning a favour. It could mean trading services, providing something either in value or in kind. All major world religions cover the concept of reciprocity in one form or another – it’s basically the “do unto others as you would have done to you” scenario. If, as previously stated, you’ve developed great relationships and nurtured them along the way, reciprocity too becomes second nature and a part of your overall best business practices.
Which brings us to referrals. Why is this the “Third R?” Again, it comes back to this: when you are building relationships and engaging in the spirit and practice of reciprocity, then the next natural outcome would be for you (and those you do business with) to act as a mutual referral source for one another. Getting to know another individual, understanding their business and how they conduct themselves increases the likelihood that even if you can’t utilize the service they provide, you are comfortable acting as a referral source for them and their business. You may not be their ideal customer but perhaps you know someone who is and because you have taken the time to foster a relationship you are confidant referring others and they in turn are comfortable referring you. Perhaps it seems counter-intuitive but in helping others to succeed so too will you. In practicing the “Three R’s” theory you are nurturing and developing a business circle based on trust, understanding and mutual support that will only enhance the bottom line of your business. (Did you notice that? This blog also has come full circle!)
As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed? Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.
Writing Right For You
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