Today on the Business over Breakfast podcast, Andrew Griffiths and Bree James talk about a…
Connect with People, Make Friends With Your Clients and Teams
Recently I needed to find a trustworthy real estate agent to help me with a property transaction in my hometown on the other side of the globe.
This situation was all new to me, and after some research, I ended up with a shortlist of two agents. I called them both to get a feel for who they are and how they approach business.
The first person I talked to had only been in the property business for a few years. She appeared knowledgeable but didn’t pretend to have all the answers. She used an interesting but rather unique strategy for making successful sales. She told me how she fell in love with this business when seeing her soon-to-be boss talk at an event, and how dealing with properties had become her passion, rather than a job.
The second lady I talked to had been doing this work for several decades. She knew the ins-and-outs of the industry and her commitment to customer satisfaction was evident. She left me with no doubt that she would use tried and tested sales techniques, conduct business with great diligence, and ensure that there were no surprises. Her fees were also a bit lower.
Logic told me to engage the second person; this would have been a safer choice. Yet, I felt I had to choose the first one, even if this meant that I would take some risks and possibly pay a bit more than necessary.
Only time will tell whether I’ve made the right choice, but ruminating on this is not the point of this article.
The real estate agent I’ve chosen is already a winner, and there’s something we can all learn about how she’s come out on top.
From the first minute of our call, I felt we were good friends (not like teacher and student, as I felt during my conversation with the other lady). As we chatted, I recognised parts of myself in her. We both like to approach challenges creatively, do thorough research, and then trust our gut when it comes to making decisions. We both like to keep a sense of humour even while talking about serious business. And most importantly, we both love what we do and are curious learners.
I sensed that I would enjoy collaborating with her, and this was more important to me than making as much profit as possible. However, I sense that our friendly work relationship will likely translate to greater financial rewards for both of us.
Connect with people.
Of course, this is not the first time I had experienced how friendly work relationships can shape business.
In fact, in my working life, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy or witness friendships from numerous different perspectives.
During the years I worked as an employee I became good friends with many of my colleagues. I had managers who made the effort to get to know everyone in the team as individuals to create a friendly atmosphere for collaboration.
Several of my business allies, mentors and coaches treat me as a friend. I often work with clients, business owners and team leaders, who see their employees as well as their own clients as good friends. Some of my clients have also become friends as we tackled workplace projects together.
Here are a few ‘rules’ I consistently notice:
- Talking to a team member, client or business partner as a friend shouldn’t undermine anyone’s authority, the seriousness of the business, or the effectiveness of your collaboration.
- Sometimes the relationship between two people who have been working together for a long time can instantly transform when they find out that they share a common interest or belief.
- When you work with friends, you work more productively and effectively as a team, solve problems more easily, and achieve greater results. Part of the reason is that you are more open to sharing ideas and opinions and taking honest feedback.
- When you collaborate with friends, work might still be challenging, but it often doesn’t feel like work. When you enjoy what you do, and you’re not distracted by formalities or lurking personal issues, you’re so much more likely to excel.
I acknowledge that some of these ‘rules’ might not apply in certain situations, but thankfully I have the choice not to be involved or support businesses where there’s absolutely no space for potential friendships.
Let me make this clear, you and your colleagues, team members, and clients don’t need to be best mates and hang out together outside of work in order to be able to work together as friends.
In my experience, it’s difficult to make many friends in business by only looking for those special team members, clients and partners whose worldviews are identical to yours.
But if you’re open to connect with people from all walks of life, who might think differently from you in many ways but who still share some common interests, people all around you will see you as a friend.
I don’t think I need to tell you how to talk to someone like a friend; you just need to make the decision.
When I called this real estate agent lady, we started our conversation with a bit of a laugh; we joked about being in different time zones. The technology wasn’t working well, so we had to improvise, but we were quite relaxed about the situation. I felt she was genuinely interested in me, and our conversation, somehow, felt very natural, despite the fact that we couldn’t meet in person. And so she came out as a winner.
When you have the chance to meet people face to face, developing friendships can be even easier, I touched on this in my earlier Smallville article, We need to start taking our relationships offline.
Also, finding the right environment for meeting or working with people can also assist you to develop and maintain friendly relationships. In my next article, I will share with you a handful of ideas for creating a workplace where friendships naturally grow.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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