A non-negotiable belief I’ve held for as long as I can remember is that Christianity in not about religion – it’s about relationship. While important, focusing on specific denominational tenants can often divide people, focusing on relationship building brings unity and affords the opportunity and privilege to be “salt and light.” Not only is the principle of relationship-building significant in the spiritual sense, it’s also imperative in the marketplace.
Folks who know me will testify that I cringe when I hear the word “networking.” To most of us, when we think of networking it’s people trying to pass as many business cards and spout as many elevator speeches as possible in the hopes of finding folks who want to buy their products or services. Their cards may lay in piles on our desks but, more often, they end up in our garbage cans. The majority of people I know don’t even like to go to network meetings because they feel the pressure to perform – to get immediate results. So what’s a better way?
The truth is, we all love to recommend. We all love to tell someone “I know a guy”, or “I know a lady.” We recommend folks because when they exceed expectations it makes us look good – and we like to look good! We only recommend people we trust, and we trust people we’ve gotten to know – and that takes time. A great wine cannot be enjoyed immediately after it goes into a bottle – it must be aged over time. Inter-personally, this is what I call relationship-building.
In order to do effective relationship-building you must first have to actually care about people and their stories. When you meet with someone, don’t just ask them what they do but why they do what they do. Find out what’s their passion; learn how they serve through what they do – not simply what they sell. Remember, God gave us two ears but only one mouth – we must use them proportionately! The more you learn about a person, the more you’ll know if you can enthusiastically recommend them.
The other side of the coin is the more you serve others the more they want to serve you. People innately love to help people-helpers – they can’t help themselves! We all learned a long time ago that there’s a principle of sowing and reaping. So focus on sowing into others through relationship-building instead of merely networking and watch your own business grow!
About the Author
Mark Goldstein is the president & CEO of the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce and president of On The Mark Consulting LLC., a relationship-building company. He has over thirty-five years of experience in sales and marketing which includes broadcast media, print, home-based, Internet and trade show. As president of the Christian Chamber, his goal is to build business, build community, and build the Kingdom. As president of On The Mark Consulting, he helps individuals and businesses enhance communication, reduce conflict and increase productivity.