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Your ability to get anything done in business is directly linked to the strength of your personal relationships. For most managers, there is little that can be achieved solely with the resources at their direct control. You must also be able to influence others to get anything worthwhile accomplished, and that influence is based on strong and trusted relationships.

First, a quick admission. Throughout my corporate career I shunned relationship building – particularly with people I didn’t immediately like. I viewed it as unnecessary and political. Instead, I believed that gaining support for my proposals should be based on the quality of my work and not whether I knew my boss’s boss well enough.

I was wrong.

As a consultant I now understand that understanding others’ agenda, being of help to them and identifying opportunities to help them to achieve their aims is the way to get things done. And, in return, I have found that I can use these relationships over time to help with my own objectives.

Here are 7 principles I now use to build stronger, more productive relationships with others.

  1. Have an honest intent to help others.

    If you have a genuine desire to help others, this will be immediately picked up by your contacts. What are you doing to demonstrate to them that you have their interests at heart?

  2. It’s a process, not a transaction.

    Relationships develop over a period of time. It’s better to have the relationship already developed than trying to build it at the same time as you need to influence the other person.

  3. Give to get.

    It is far easier to get others to spend time with you if, in the past, you have helped or provided value for them. One of my first clients engaged me partly because I had previously helped him obtain a new role.

  4. Be provocative.

    Don’t be a yes man or woman. People are attracted to those who have a new angle, new ideas and a different point of view. The top executives in one of my clients constantly seek out a particular senior manager, as he is always able and willing to offer interesting, innovative and inspirational ideas.

  5. Connect others together.

    I recently organised a meeting between a client of mine who leads a team with a wide variety of backgrounds, with a US expert on managing diversity. The meeting was successful, with the client identifying some new ways to build his team, and both thanked me for bringing them together – even though I wasn’t there.

  6. Keep in regular contact.

    Little and often is the best way. For example, I offer my contacts weekly newsletter with a short article that – hopefully – offers them value. Depending on the individual I add to this with other periodic mailings of articles, phone calls and face-to-face meetings.

  7. Don’t watch the clock.

    You cannot expect instant payback. However, as long as you continue to build the relationship in the right way, it is more than likely that you will gain the reward at some point down the line.

Which of these 7 principles could you adopt to help you build better relationships, have more influence and become more productive?


© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.