ROR Essential Elements - 4 Make the Effort with Everyone


Return on Relationships is about Return on Investment, where your investment is in the time and energy it takes to build a network of positive advocates – people who like, trust and respect you, and you them.

Previous articles have discussed the first three Essential Elements, your Personal Proposition, your Business Proposition and Investing your time wisely. These three Elements ensure that your Reputation in the Marketplace are maximised in terms of the core messages around who you are, what you do and the key messages that people take away from meeting and spending time with you.

This article examines how you select the people you choose as guardians of your Reputation and ensuring that as well as understanding you, you ensure that you understand them!

It is critically important that as well as “grooming” your own messages and network, take the time to do the same for others – help them with their personal propositions and share your experiences to ensure that they remember you and feel they gained significant value from your time together. Make sure that you understand their value proposition clearly enough that you will be able to provide qualified recommendations and connect them confidently to other members of your network. It is equally important, if necessary, to (however occasionally) arrive at the conclusion that they are not someone you can advocate or do business with and be able to stick by that decision.

The process of spending quality time with people gives you the opportunity to assess them, as well as understanding what they do and ensuring they understand what you do. Very occasionally, you will meet someone and come to the conclusion that you don’t (one or more of) Like, Trust and Respect them and may not even know why – some people have strong intuition and some don’t. If alarm bells ring in your head, it’s usually for good reason, even if you can’t explain it logically! It’s better to walk away on good terms than to embrace someone and then find out that being associated with them has negative implications for your own reputation. Never be afraid to say (at least to yourself) “I cannot recommend this person!” and be prepared to stand by that decision – the worst thing that can happen is they prove you wrong…… and you have to admit that you judged them harshly – it’s better that, than being let down!

Spending time - good quality time - with people is extremely important for many reasons. You get far more than just their work history and skills, you get to share a piece of who they are – family, values, experiences. They become a truly 3-dimensional image in your mind. It’s critically important during this time to STOP SELLING …. Remember, the people you meet are not your market, they are your route to market. It’s important to imagine you’re in a bar, at a party, or in a coffee house and you are just chatting socially. You have a limited amount of time to get across a clear impression of who you are and what you do and gain the same from them……… and there’s nothing more boring than somebody who just talks about themselves, so remember to ask questions as well as talking! The old sales line – you have two ears, two eyes and one mouth….. that’s the order of priority.

It becomes especially important when you meet somebody who either has a complex business proposition, or they haven’t yet worked out how to explain it clearly and concisely. By taking the time to understand it, you achieve at least two things – you have clarity about who they are and what they do (which means you can refer them more easily), you help them understand what’s important to others (which means they will do a better job of explaining their Business proposition next time) and you probably become more memorable and more valuable to them for just taking the time (which means they will find it easier to refer you).

One amazing thing is that when you really “click” with someone, time just flies – you allocate an hour for coffee at 10 a.m. and suddenly you’re hungry, because it’s lunchtime! If this happens and you both have the time, then use it to full effect. If time is dragging and it’s hard work filling the hour you’d both allocated, make sure you’ve covered the essentials for both of you and move on – they will still be available in a few months if you want to have another try………. unless you’re the problem!

One important aspect is don’t try too hard, be relaxed – don’t try to impress….. you’re NOT selling! Be yourself, talk about your life and your experiences, ask them if there are any ways you can assist them right now, ask what “the perfect client” would be, find out about their lives, their hobbies, family, etc…… you’re seeking common ground and synergy, so take time to gain an understanding of who they really are and what their life looks like. But don’t probe too deep, or too personally, you’re trying to understand them, not interrogate them!

Incredibly, the behaviours that work best are the things we might do entirely naturally in our social lives, but tend to do badly between 9-5, Monday to Friday, when we’re in “work mode”. Imagine it’s Friday evening and you’ve gone for a beer after work and you meet somebody interesting – you wouldn’t start trying to sell them your product or service, you’d have a normal conversation. Well, that’s what good networking is all about and that’s how Return on Relationships works best, by building relationships first…… it’s not rocket science!

So, in summary, you’re trying to build Relationships, not sell products/services. You aim to meet people and build an understanding of who they are and what they do. Your aim, if possible, is to build a mutual Relationship based on Like, Trust and Respect – or at least build the foundations, so that you can continue building at a later date. You objective is to each leave the meeting having gained an understanding of the other person, so that you can both add to each other’s Reputation in the Marketplace and be able to advocate or recommend each other if a suitable opportunity arises - this is Return on Relationships (ROR).

The truly amazing thing is that the effect, as you add more and more trusted contacts, is that your ability to make connections and to refer people (your ROR) increases exponentially and, with it, so does your Reputation. The best bit is that you’re achieving this simply by socialising and learning – what could be better?!