Relationships are key in all aspects of life. Perhaps this is something that we have lost in our busyness. I remember when we were children, my dad used to make it a point to take the family to visit family friends on Sunday evenings. While I didn’t realize it then, he was building relationships and even today, I still have those friendships though we may not be in each others’ lives on a regular basis. I wonder how many people still do that or are we all too busy to invest the time in building relationships?
In business, relationships are also important and in fact, in marketing, there is something called ‘relationship marketing’. According to an article on Forbes.com, one definition of relationship marketing is: “a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement.” While relationship marketing may seem a bit contrived, I believe that in business we all do it to some extent because we want customer loyalty and long-term engagement. Anyone in business knows that it costs less to get repeat business from existing customers (once they are satisfied) than to win new customers.
For example, when people read my books and connect with me either on Facebook, or by email or even take the time to call, that creates a relationship. So, when I am writing a new book, I begin to engage them and tell them how things are going and when to expect the book to be published. So, I am using the strategy of relationship marketing even though I wasn’t aware of it. As a result, I have rarely come across a reader who will not buy my book after I send out an email or post on Facebook to announce that it has been published. I get sales and they get a signed copy of the book, usually hand delivered, which saves them having to go out and buy one. Win/win.
In Barbados, you tend to hear “it’s who you know” and that is often said in a derogatory or a cynical way, usually to suggest that people get appointed to positions or get favours because they know someone in a position of influence. But isn’t that how relationships work? The problem is really only if the person is not qualified to do the job or is not eligible to receive the benefit but gets it anyway.
Even in the Bible, when Daniel got promoted to the highest position in Babylon, he petitioned the king to promote his friends. Fortunately, they were versed in the language and literature of the Babylonians, so they were well qualified for the position. A few years ago, I was on the panel at a conference hosted by the Business & Professional Women’s Club and the discussion was about women in positions of influence with the topic: Have You Arrived and Who Did You Bring… or something of that nature. It was discussing whether women were reaching the highest levels of influence in Barbados and if not why not and if they were using their positions to help other women
I am therefore very happy to see, no more than five years later, that we now have a female Prime Minister and Governor General, a record number of female members in Parliament, many females on Boards, in the Senate and at the helm of major banks and other organizations. I am also happy to see that women are helping to promote women more. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against men but to my mind, men have never been faced with glass ceilings, so they don’t need the same kind of help.
Relationships are key to getting ahead in business. People prefer to do business with people they know and trust; in other words, people they have a relationship with. Therefore, we need to be strategic in building relationships, not to exploit others but for the mutual benefit of both parties. According to participants of the WINC Acceleration Programs for women entrepreneurs, two of the program’s major successes were the networking and relationships that were formed that outlived the program’s eight months.
As Barbados goes through its structural adjustment over the next few years strong relationships will be key. I was therefore very happy to hear the President of Guyana say that his country is willing to share its good fortune with its CARICOM neighbours and has invited the countries (including Barbados) to partake of the wealth to come, through investment possibilities. This is truly magnanimous in light of some of our actions in the past. May this be a reminder to us to live by the golden rule and do to others as we would have them do to us. Going forward, we will not only need strong relationships in the region but with each other locally, as we work together to restore the economy and the society of the island. Relationships matter.
Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She was the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014-2016) and is the Barbados Facilitator for the WINC Acceleration Program. She has just released her eleventh book, Vaucluse, which is available on all Amazon stores or contact her to order your copy.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org