The importance of relationship building is well documented, especially in the business world. This may be review to those whose livelihoods (and their ability to earn an income) depend on their ability to sell goods or services. As a salesperson, your chances of being able to sell something increase if you maintain a relationship with that person. Obviously, there are other factors involved, but all things being equal, your good client relationships increase your success.
The internet has changed our lives. It has changed the way just about any business conducts its business. For example, it has changed the way in which “brick and mortar” retail outfits (businesses that have traditionally done business through a conventional storefront, i.e., Wal-Mart, Sears, Best Buy, etc) connect with customers. Prior to access to the internet, retail outfits would rely on more traditional methods (radio, television, and print) to connect with customers.
Advertising companies earned their keep by their ability to help its clients connect with customers. Regardless of the medium, advertising companies’ clients have a need to establish their brand, and broadcast it to a hopefully captivated audience.
Television advertising has enjoyed a boom over the last 50 or so years, as it incorporates subtle (or not so subtle) use of imagery (both visual and audio) to capture the attention of potential buyers. Making commercials has evolved into a much studied art form over the past half-century. Not only making the advertisement, but ad placement has turned into science – knowing when and where to run your commercial is just as important as the ad itself.
This industry has reached fever-pitch status with the advent and increase of popularity of info-commercials. If you own a television set, you’ve seen the ads for various miracle products: amazing knives that cut through anything and retain their sharpness, sunglasses that are stylish and comfortable (according to random people who have been approached in a public place), and small, thin towels that soak up seemingly impossible amounts of water.
But while advertising has been, and remains an important strategy for most retail outfits, technology may be changing the game. Devices such as TiVo help people record and watch television and bypass watching the commercials. The vast television audience is less likely to flip through channels and stop on an infomercial if they pre-record all of their favorite programming.
The audience is also shifting from traditional television networks and print media to other forms of online media. While all forms of traditional advertising are down across all sectors, no where is this more apparent than in the printed media sector. The newspaper market has taken a nosedive, as people increasingly turn to the internet to rely on their daily news intake. But while there is a shift in the medium, or the way people get their information, branding and personal branding are as important as ever.
So how does relationship building impact our ability to choose a career, find a job, or be successful in a job?
I am reminded of the short 6 minute videos, Did You know: Shift Happens and Social Media Revolution, that you can find on YouTube. (I also have posted them in the videos section of my blog.) Each video is loaded with facts about the changing nature of the workplace due to increased technology and globalization.
Technology, such as web 2.0, is changing the way we interact with one another socially, and in the marketplace. Increased globalization is shrinking the world in which we live in. We are no longer competing with people and businesses in our town, state, or country; we are competing with people and businesses around the world. As job applicants, we are competing against people from other countries. (Just ask anyone that has had his or her job outsourced to another country.) Businesses are facing increased pressure to lower wages to compete with low wages from developing countries.
What does this all mean to you?
As you are considering careers, applying for jobs, or trying to stay or advance in your current job and company, trends in the marketplace are important to follow. As we all engage in a web 2.0 world (socially or in the marketplace), it is important to be mindful of our ability to establish and maintain relationships. If you are researching different career choices, it would be a good idea to see how the ability to establish and maintain relationships will enhance your ability to do your job functions.
If you are job searching, building relationships will undoubtedly connect you with more people that might be able to connect you with the right opportunity.
If you are currently in a job, it is always important to continue connecting with people, as it will help build on your existing skills by talking with industry people that might have good ideas. It will also keep you connected with industry people that will be allies when it comes time to change jobs.
I was reading The Harvard Business Review, and I was reminded of this topic when reading an article entitled Social Media’s Critical Path: Relevance to Resonance to Significance, written by Brian Solis. This is an interesting article, as it discusses the difference between the simple “Pay it backwards,” (or pay me, and I will return a good or service), versus the “Pay it forward,” approach (or establish a relationship, then I will do business with you).
Solis argues that doing business in a web 2.0 world, which is a more relationship and collaborative based version of the internet, companies need to take advantage of the technical resources available to maximize your potential. For those of you looking to start your own business, or to enter any of the many business careers (such as marketing, PR, finance, etc.), studying these resources may pay off when entering your career of choice. Many companies today hire applicants that are proficient in many online web 2.0 tools that help in online relationship establishment (such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.).
While you can read the entire article on the HBR site, I will outline the most important points of the Social Media’s Critical Path article:
- Relevance: As you craft your message to your online audience, you must make it relevant to your audience. This is not a new concept, but it is still important to consider when dealing with an online audience.
- Resonance: How well will your message stay with your audience? Longevity is something that will develop a meaningful relationship. How do you develop longevity? Solis says that relevance is the first step. Second is: is your message worth sharing? In other words, will somebody share it with someone else? Will your message go “viral?”
- Significance: This sounds similar to a combination of resonance and relevance, as it refers to your message consistently resonating with your audience. But as Solis points out, “Online significance is the earned stature we merit as measured by our actions and words. It is the culmination of reputation, trust, influence, accessibility, value, and capital within each social network. Significance is not measured by size and shape, but instead by affinity and through the collective influence of the actions and reactions that follow every interaction.”