Brown Bag Lessons
by Eric Jaren
Founder, Brown Bag Lessons
6/22/2014 - Bellbrook, Ohio
Throughout my career people told me it was important to build a network, especially when attending college, professional development courses and conferences. I didn't realize the impact of networks until much later. Now I realize that strong networks (relationships) are not just "something" to work on. They are everything!
In business, you cannot simply go to a meeting and expect to build a strong relationship. Those brief and often transactional encounters evolve into acquaintances. You have to make a deliberate effort to establish trusted relationships with your business partners. And once you have them, they allow you to overcome obstacles and cut through red tape. What's more, relationships build camaraderie, boost esprit de corps and form the culture of an organization. But relationships must be genuine or you may find yourself on an island.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Consider people who go to work every day and don’t know anything about their coworkers. In the hallway each morning you extend pleasantries and everything seems perfect. One person says "Good morning", and the other replies back, "Good morning." But if you work 40, 50, 60 hours a week and don't know their name, their family, or what is going on in their lives, you may very well be on an island. They might respect your position in the company, but if you haven’t formed a relationship with them, they don’t know you, and therefore they don't trust you. Possibly they don't trust you enough to inform you on what is truly going on in the company.
Have you heard of an organization with esprit de corps? The Army would call it "Hua!" You can't get Hua going to meetings. It's not built by e-mail or texting from cubicle to cubicle either. An organization with Hua has synergy, momentum and resilience. Hua allows an organization to become greater than the sum of its parts.
The Fifth Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Robert Gaylor talks about the importance of balancing "High Tech" and "High Touch."
Chief Gaylor says being high-tech allows us to effectively communicate across a wide network. But we also have to be high-touch. Building trusted relationships takes good old-fashioned face-to-face communication. What critical decisions happen via text? What delicate negotiations happen over email? Look your coworkers and business partners in the eye and leverage your credibility.
Relationships are the tie that binds us, the glue that holds us together; it’s the stuff that great organizations are made of, but it cannot happen without trust.