Relationships are a critical part of a PR professional’s work. Learning how to build and nurture relationships is a topic that never seems to get old. I put together this post about creating and maintaining relationships.
Relationships. Everyone has them, and I am willing to bet everyone discusses, or should I say complains, about them on a daily basis. I am personally guilty of that myself because let’s face it, relationships are hard work.
Even so, we’ve also learned throughout the years how important relationships are, both personal and professional. So, whether you are looking to form a completely new relationship or just looking to improve an existing one, here are some helpful suggestions to guide you through the process.
Here’s my advice:
1) Do your research. Do you remember all the time and energy you put into researching for a school paper or work assignment? It’s probably exhausting just thinking about the tedious task of sifting through pages of information to find exactly what you were looking for. But in the end, wasn’t it worth it?
The same can be true with relationships. A relationship of any kind will take time to build. To make sure you get off on the right foot, do your homework beforehand. Particularly when trying to build professional contacts, it’s always helpful to conduct some research on the individual prior to reaching out to him/her. Not only will it help give you talking points and establish some common ground, but it will also leave a lasting impression.
2) Be patient. As busy professionals, we constantly wish we had more time in the day to accomplish everything we need to get done. We’ve all had those days when we look on our desk to see the paperwork has piled up, as have the emails in our inboxes. Be mindful of this and be patient when first trying to establish a relationship, rather than inundating him/her with phone calls and emails in an effort to set up a meeting.
Being overly aggressive may ruin any chance you had of forming a relationship. Rather, you should be accommodating to others’ time and needs. Give them a week to sort through their workload and find time to fit you into their schedule. If they don’t get back to you within a week, then try once again to set up a time to connect.
3) Thoughtfulness goes a long way. Remember when you received that card from a friend or colleague who remembered your birthday? It felt good didn’t it? That’s a simple tool you can use to make sure you show that you care for an already established relationship. Try keeping a calendar of special dates that are important to that person and send a card or pick up the phone.
4) Make an effort. Sure, this step seems simple, but it’s often easy to forget. Try to follow up and call someone just because. If you only reach out to people when you need something, they will more than likely not want to respond to you. They’ll feel as if it’s a chore maintaining a relationship with you. You don’t want your relationship to be based on needs alone. There must be a healthy balance.
The bottom line is that relationships take work. There is no easy way to get around that. But, if you are willing to put in the effort, you will get far more out of it than you ever imagined.
What are your tips for building and maintaining relationships?