May 05, 2015

How I Build Relationships: 5 Ways to Draw Connections Starting With French Fries


This is the second post in our newest series "How I Build Relationships." We firmly believe great relationships power great businesses, but how do you build those great relationships? Here's our take with influencers, Contactually users and employees, and others on how these individuals build relationships. Check out the first one from Zvi!

The first friend I ever made was on the first day of kindergarten. He asked me if I liked french fries. I of course replied: "Yes."

Well, that's a slight variation. He asked me if I owned McDonalds (My last name is MacDonald) and got free French Fries (side note: if this is not the basis for a great relationship, I don't know what is). I of course, lied and said YES!

We are still friends to this day.

Things have changed as the years have passed, but the foundation on how I formed that relationships has not. Although, I still have a love for french fries, I have since developed other tactics that build relationships.

Here are the 5 Ways on How I Build Relationships:

1. Find things in common with people

Unbeknownst to my kindergarten self, bonding over fries was a great way to forge a relationship. This is still true for me today. When I'm on a call with a potential user, it's a human to human interaction and I want to get to know what they like and what they don't like to help personalize the call.

I'm not a sales robot, instead I want to be a trusted advisor and a friend to help find a solution with those individuals.

People are more likely to respond positively when you draw out similarities with each other.

2. Go out of your comfort zone

Networking is hard. From small talk to shaking hands with someone you don't know, putting yourself out there to meet more people and establish more relationships is scary. And events specifically for networking aren't stopping -- B2B marketers are still dedicating much more of their budgets to events.

As these events continue, and comfort levels continue to plummet, more often than not, you are not the only person who is uncomfortable in the situation. One suggestion is to grab a partner.

Maybe it's frightening to try it yourself, but if you had someone by your side you both can help each other along the way. If you and a colleague work together to try something new or outside your comfort zone, it will provide you with a common ground and an experience that you can build your relationships on.

Maybe then the individual you meet has two positive people to associate with the company you work for.

3. Ask different questions

As a new member of a company it can be daunting to get to know everyone. One of the best ways I found to connect to people is asking questions.

As a new member of Contactually, I timidly admitted my love for Taylor Swift to a colleague and asked her what she thought about her music. She responded with a recording of Blank Space on her Ukulele. (BEST RESPONSE EVER!)

While you are speaking to new opportunities, partners, or influencers, this technique can provide a genuine level of curiosity that sets the tone for a great relationship.

Have you tried asking these questions to close more deals?

4. Have Empathy

Empathy is the the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. And although the definition was pretty easy to Google and I could find many articles on this topic, it's not something that should be taken lightly.

A study that was done showed how the brain reacts with pain and then how the brain reacts empathizes with that pain. With empathy, you don't physically feel that whole pain the other person feels, but you do genuinely feel some of that pain.

In a customer facing position, empathy is one of the most powerful relationship tools. People who feel that a representative understands his or her issue allows for a deeper path of trust. When an empathetic tone is established, the opportunities approaching you know that you will help solve their ultimate needs with whatever product, service, or tool you are selling.

5. Put your screens away

On average, I think we all have access to at least two or more screens at any given point of the day. This makes it really convenient to check any messages you may have missed or read pieces of content that have released throughout the day; regardless, of the level of connectedness on the screen, how connected are you to the people around you?

Everyone has been at a dinner where his or her counterpart is constantly starting at a screen. Instead, keep your phone at your desk or in your bag - the people nearby will eventually follow suit and you have the bigger opportunities to establish better relationships.

Relationships are not hard to build, but great, impactful ones are sometimes the biggest challenge to create.

If you are at a loss of how to build solid business relationships, work to find commonalities, go out of your comfort zone, ask questions, show empathy, and/or you can always share some French fries.