This week I am coaching a small IT consulting company in how to network and make cold calls to get more business. As a result, I’ve been reading a bit on networking and business relationships. And reading for business always leads me to think about the church. Here’s this week’s Big Truth:
It’s about persons, stupid.
You can try to press the flesh, work the room, and do all the things that everyone tells you to do. But all that matters is that you care. Christina Gold, the turnaround leader of Avon North America, said,
It’s not just a question of the things that you do. It’s who you are and how you do them. If you just send cards or send a note or send flowers because you think that’s the right thing to do, but you don’t really give a damn, then it’s better not to…
It’s not the cards, it’s the genuine emotion, the type of communication, the type of people the company has managing relationships on its behalf. Those are the things that make the difference between companies that really succeed and those that don’t. [In It’s Not Business, It’s Personal: The 9 Relationship Principles That Power Your Career by Ronna Lichtenberg]
Harvey Mackay says something similar in Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need. You simply cannot do life without other people, he argues, and networking is just a way to say that you acknowledge this. “No matter how smart you are, no matter how talented, you can’t do it alone.”
And you if you are simply trying to use someone, you’re better off not doing anything at all. For without real human connection, your words are but a clanging cymbal, a crashing gong.
Oh, wait: that’s the Apostle Paul, not Mackay.
I’ve spent more than my fair share of time trying to “make connections” and “work the room” with people that I just didn’t like. When I first came to Chicago, I joined an association for marketing environmental services, the field in which I had worked in San Antonio. I remember sitting with them after one of our dinner meetings, listening to them swap jokes and thinking, “These guys are like used-car salesmen.” A teenage girl, who looked about sixteen or seventeen, came by to get the bill. As she was leaving, these guys started making crass comments about what they would like to do with her within her earshot. I knew then that I didn’t want to work with these folks, yet I still tried to “look past” and “business is business”.
That is nothing better than complete bullshit.
And I am completely ashamed of my behaviour.
All that matters is people. Period. All that matters in church is relationships, between God and you, God and us, me and you, you and us. If you follow your interests and your heart, you can connect to people with whom you want to do not just business but life.
“Don’t mix business and friendships,” they tell you. So does that mean that business cannot work inside a community?
Image credit: One of the pastors of the Free-Will Baptist Church preaches to his congregation. Wheelwright Junction, Floyd County, Kentucky. 1946. By Russell Lee. NARA
Does that mean that business cannot work inside a community?
No, it can and does work…but it’s rare, and often short-lived. If you’re ever fortunate enough to land in that situation, enjoy it. It’s a rare treat!
I’ll have to write something up about this. Business within a community is perilous, or so almost every business leader I’ve read says. Even ones I know say that. There has to be something more because in small towns, how do you avoid doing business with a friend?
Your final question doesn’t follow. If you care about your client and connect with them personnally, then you will have a sense of community with them up front. That’s the very essence of a long term business relationship. You connect personnaly, just like you say.
Where people have trouble making the switch is when you, your people, or your product don’t perform. The well developed manager will call you in and let you know you’re not holding up your end. This may be friendly, or it may not be. Your response must be to uphold your end of the bargain; not try to call in a “marker” of friendship or personal connection.
Hence, the feelings of community or personal connection are a plus only. They help you multiply performance into long term business and make the experience more fun. But, you must still perform or you will be replace by the used car guys.