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Business is All About Relationships
By Michael Angier

I live in a small metropolitan area with only about 110,000 people. And it seems even smaller than that.

Iíve been doing business in this community for over 20 years. Iíve worked in non-profits, sales, publishing, printing, construction and now Internet publishing.

Very little of my business is now local. But I DO run into people often from previous business relationships. Like me, many of these people are in different businesses--often different careers altogether.

It struck me how much my present business relationships have to do with my previous ones. Iíve found it easy to recreate rapport and establish trust with folks Iíve had good dealings with before. When I know someone and have confidence in their word, doing business with them becomes easier.

I just had lunch with someone whom Iíve known and worked with since 1983. All of our dealings have not been positive. In fact he was hurt financially by some poor business decisions I made in the early 90s. Even so, our friendship weathered that storm because of the depth of the relationship.

Iíve not always been successful, but I strive to have an excellent relationship with everyone. It doesnít seem possible all the time, but itís worth striving for nonetheless.

Marketing gurus recommend that we should be mindful of the lifetime value of a customeróto look not only at the profit from an initial sale. Itís good advice, but I would take it a step further: Be mindful of the lifetime value of a RELATIONSHIP--not just a customer.

One of the key concepts we talked about at the recent World-Class Business Summit was the importance of relationships in business. I went so far as to say that business is really a network of communication against a background of relationships.

And itís not just relationships with customersóitís with suppliers, coworkers, stakeholdersóeven competitors.

As some of my recent encounters have pointed out, some relationships are completely reversed from what they used to be. Customers can now be employers. Competitors can now be customers. Coworkers may now be bosses.

Today, with the Internet, our business world becomes even smaller. We do business with people around the world, but itís really still a pretty small community. As I talk with other entrepreneurs online, we seem to know many of the same people.

In a few years, we may each be doing something a bit different. And the relationships we have and build today will serve us in the future in direct proportion to the quality and integrity we create.

Itís important that we cultivate and nurture our relationships. Being honest, playing win-win and treating people fairly isnít just a moral thing to doóitís good businessónow, and in the future.

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