Relating on the Road

I’m flying home after giving nine speeches in ten days. Many of these were half-day workshops, so I have spent much more time in front of audiences than I have in my own bed.

But I loved every minute of it, and I feel great knowing that I have given people tools they can use to improve their business performance.

A few days into this busy period, I started getting a bit stressed, because I saw that I was falling behind in my efforts to keep in touch with people. I had a list of people to get in touch with, but I wasn’t making all of the calls I needed to make, and I wasn’t writing all of the emails I needed to write.

In one form or another, all of us face these intense times of over-scheduling, and it creates an acute challenge: keeping our business relationships strong during periods when time is scarce, work is hard and attention is limited.

As the stress mounted, I grabbed a copy of my book We: The Ideal Customer Relationship to remind me of ideas to help me keep up with my relationship-building contacts. Here are a few ideas I encourage you to keep in mind the next time your schedule gets crowded and you run the risk of ignoring important people in your life.

Examine the status of your relationships

Take a quick inventory of your business relationships, assessing the health and stability of each of them.

Identify which relationships need nurturing during this period

Which relationships are strong and not in need of urgent attention, and can wait until the crunch time is over, and which relationships need a little TLC while you’re busy?

Think from the other person’s perspective

Ask yourself, “What does he need from me? What are his goals and needs? What kind of interaction would make him feel better about his relationship with me?”

Determine at least one relationship-building encounter for each of the relationships that merit attention

Think of the best interactions or touches that can move each of these relationships forward, without requiring too much of your scarce time.

Think “ongoing conversation”

Many of these encounters will be short. Can you connect your message to a previous conversation with this person, making this new encounter part of an ongoing, continual conversation?

Plan the “when”

Think ahead. You know when you will have little slices of time. They may come on airplanes. They may even happen in rental cars. Some of these are good times for writing notes, some are good for making calls. Plan how you will use them.

Get help, if you have it

Can your team members help you move your relationships forward? If so, and if appropriate, use their help.

Every one reading this article shares two characteristics:

  1. They are busy
  2. They have many business relationships to nurture

Balancing these two competing forces is a key to success. You will be busy, but you need to create strong relationships, because none of us succeeds alone.

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