Relationship Building Takes Involvement

By Stacy Cornay for the Times-Call
Publish Date: 08/23/2015

Why didn't I know that.

That was the question that kept running through my mind as I recently sat through a memorial service for a dear friend. Why didn't I know that? Why didn't I know about all of the hobbies he enjoyed, the different lives he touched, the profound differences he made in our community. Why didn't I know all the facets of his personality until I heard others describe them, facets that I wish I could have explored?

Whenever I attend a memorial service, I come away with the same feeling. Why did I miss so much. I promise myself to do better, to listen more attentively, to engage more fully, to better understand and appreciate the people around me. It's a worthy goal. It's a goal not easily achieved.

Goal-setting is on the front burner of businesses and organizations committed to establishing and maintaining a loyal client/customer base. Realistic goals define the bottom line Sales personnel are expected to meet or exceed goals.

Investors and directors keep a close eye on goals for ROI (return on investment). Purchasing decisions of customers/clients, both current and potential, are researched to understand behavior.

Effective marketing, advertising, public relations and promotion are essential to reaching business goals. So, too, is a component often overlooked – building relationships.

The revolutionary impacts of social media underscore the importance of relationship-building. No longer are customers/clients only recipients of business messaging. They have the tools and platforms to talk back, to join in business discussions, to be interactive in charting courses and influencing goals that businesses may set. We're living in a transformative time. It affords remarkable opportunities for businesses and consumers to build relationships that are more about strength and togetherness than they are about spreadsheets and target audiences.

Building those relationships takes time, patience, acceptance and understanding. The process cannot be one-sided or close-minded. A starting point is the question I ask myself at memorial services – "Why didn't I know that?"

Why didn't the business know about the changing desires and demographics of target audiences? Why didn't the community know of the businesses' civic involvements? Why didn't potential customers/clients shop locally before going elsewhere? Why didn't people appreciate how important businesses are to the quality of life in our community? The list of “Why didn't” questions is endless.

Getting to the answers takes the best marketing, advertising, public relations and promotions businesses can muster. It also takes reactive involvement from consumer groups. For decades, trade, chambers of commerce and civic organizations have been catalysts for involvement. They are forums for the networking and debates that build stronger relationships between and among businesses and consumers. Increasingly, social media are expanding the horizons. However, if not properly used, the expansion could come at a high cost.

In some arenas, the relationship building goals of social media are being compromised by goals of numbers – numbers of people “liked” or “friended”, numbers of hits on websites and numbers of tweets. If we spend too much time working on screens rather than interacting in person, the people factor may be lost. If the people factor is lost, so, too, will be loyalty. Losing loyalty defeats the core purpose of building relationships.

Success in building relationships is best judged when all parties involved feel connected, when mutual respect and understanding abound, when “them” and “us” thinking is replaced by “we”.

In relationship building, the goal is not to ask, “Why didn't I know that?”

The goal is for there to be no need for the question to be asked.


Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.