My friend, mentor and former boss, Della Smith of Q Workshops, is a smart cookie. She may, in fact, be the smartest person I have ever met. (And I have met a lot of really, really smart people!)
Now, I am not sure I would put Della up against Jeopardy genius Ken Jennings—that’s just a different kind of smart (and one that I believe has more to do with memory than anything else). But I have seen Della in a wide range of scenarios—from dealing with an organization facing a huge crisis to sipping a cold beverage at an outdoor patio on a hot summer day—and along with her strategic, steel trap of a mind… There is something else, something special and rare and well, simple, that is the foundation of her style of genius (and her success). She is a relationship builder.
Della recently launched a blog – Della’s Deck. It’s about effective, powerful and authentic communication. And it provides straightforward advice that can be put into action immediately. It is valuable to me from a professional communications perspective, and I get value from it in my personal life. This week, Della wrote about the power of authentic relationships. She also shared a list of questions that you should/could know about the people in your life… I was amazed at how many of them I couldn’t answer about people—clients and friends—who I would say I have particularly close or positive relationships with. I am going to change that.
Authentic relationships are at the heart of communication. And that doesn’t mean that, as a communicator, you need to meet every single person on your media distribution list—although you should know who they are, what they cover for their media outlet or blog, and understand why what you are sending them is of interest to them. That is a relationship. It might be a few steps removed from the kind of relationship where you can call a journalist and ask them to meet you for a coffee, but it is still a respectful relationship.
At AHA, we often have people call us out of the blue and tell us why we should hire them. No relationship building by commenting on this blog or chatting with us on Facebook or Twitter. Their calls are based on what we should know about them. I often wonder how much they know about us—if anything.
We recently had someone become quite persistent about calling to tell us why we should hire the company she works for to produce video for our clients. We asked her if she realized that we have a video crew here at AHA. She hesitated and then said: “But we’re better.”
Firstly, I don’t think she even checked our site. Secondly, our crew produces brand journalism videos. Had she looked at our site and paid attention to who we really are, she might have said: “Yes, I see you do brand journalism videos. I really liked the one that you did for Vancouver Community College’s Year of Science event. We actually produce a more corporate (or documentary or VH1-like) style. Perhaps we could chat and see if we can be of value to you, for those times when you need a different video style.” That might have gotten my attention. Opportunity lost because she didn’t even try to start an authentic, mutually beneficial relationship with us.