Everyone has heard the adage “location, location, location” when discussing real estate. At HP Engineering, Inc., we believe the most important consideration should be “relationships, relationships, relationships,” especially in today’s economy.
Relationships can take any working agreement or arrangement from good to great. Relationships equal trust and confidence. When trust and confidence exist, you produce a better product and have a healthier working environment. Trust and confidence help us feel connected and supported, providing a sense of belonging. Our most meaningful and authentic relationships can give a sense of purpose and meaning while helping us learn and grow.
Due to my role at HP Engineering, my coworkers often joke that I am the relationship guru. The team has even gone as far as to give me a vest with a patch saying “Guru” to drive their point home. We often have discussions in the office about what it takes to become an expert in building relationships, and it all goes back to the basics we learned as children: follow the Golden Rule, talk less, listen more, honor your commitments, and show genuine interest in the person and what matters to them.
Throughout my career in the AEC industry, I have been fortunate to develop many great professional relationships. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few of my main principles for building lasting, authentic relationships:
Authenticity is the foundation for all relationships, whether business or personal, and should be the most accessible item on this list. Be yourself and accept others as they are. Finding common goals and interests while showing vulnerability can accelerate relationships and produce outstanding results.
It’s essential to stay true to your business and personal values. They will guide you and allow your authentic self to show through. No one wants to build a relationship with someone who appears to be putting on a show. If you stay true to yourself, your relationships will flourish.
Build Trust and Mutual Respect
Trust takes time and can’t be built overnight. Imagine it as a bank in which you continually make deposits. But how do you do that? Don Miguel Ruiz said it best in The Four Agreements: “Be impeccable with your word.” There’s no better way to develop trust than to stand behind your word. Do what you say you will do and deliver on time or early. When you respect people as a foundation for your relationship building, you will find it easier to appreciate their time, energy, and passion because of the mutual trust you’ve developed.
At HP Engineering, we believe in giving and receiving grace. A simple act of grace goes a long way and establishes deeper trust and respect.
Communication is essential for any relationship, and it’s just as important in business relationships as in personal ones. You can’t have a one-sided relationship. Active and ongoing communication is fundamental. Communication can take many forms:
an email check-in
a quick text
a chat over coffee
an old-fashioned phone call (most business relationships still depend on phone calls)
Frequent communication facilitates trust and opens avenues for additional connection. When you start a new relationship, I recommend increasing communication until you’ve reached the point just before annoyance (it’s a delicate balance).
Maintaining established relationships also requires attention and connection. Even when creating new connections, you must nurture your established relationships. When your schedule gets busy, give yourself time to let them know you are still there, still thinking about them, and that you care about their success.
Quality of Service
While most business relationships start with an introduction, some develop from simply having the service or product the other person needs. At HP Engineering, we want quality to be our trademark and strive to exceed expectations while providing world-class service.
Building trust and relationships is much easier when your reputation precedes you. While some believe this creates unrealistic expectations, it is a challenge to provide more quality and service than they could have expected. Reputations are not built overnight; you must deliver consistently high-quality service. Because of this, HP Engineering has initiated several quality control measures and is now ISO 9001 certified to ensure you get the same level of service at any of our offices.
It’s important to know that while quality may have attracted them to you initially, the relationship you build will keep them coming back. Relationships and quality should go together; the work will fade if you have a great relationship but no quality. On the other hand, if you have excellent quality but can’t seem to get along, you will have the same result.
Create and Leverage Opportunities
When you look ahead and anticipate needs, you let people know that you care, and hopefully, you know their needs before they realize it. Being proactive will help you leverage opportunities and build trust and confidence, thus creating more robust relationships.
Be curious while communicating. It gives you an edge in understanding people’s needs and will help to solidify relationships. For example, if someone needs the help of an expert you know, you could recommend a digital or in-person meetup to facilitate that connection. This establishes that you are listening to them and that you care about them and their success.
I recently found myself on the phone with a potential buyer for a dirt bike I have for sale. It was mid-conversation when I realized that the dirt bike this person was looking for lined up more with a dirt bike one of our team members in the office had for sale. I chose to tell the buyer about the other dirt bike instead of my own and asked them to call the team member directly. This recommendation didn’t help me personally, but I hope it showed my team member that I have his best interest in mind and built trust between us. Opportunities are everywhere and can take relationships to the next level.
To learn more about relationships, I sought the help of an expert — Emily Henry, the Director of Business Development at Studio Outside and Founder of Connect For. We discuss the importance of relationships and how to build successful ones. Listen to our conversation, and you will be one step closer to becoming a relationship guru.