Over the course of the past few months, I have been reminded several times of the importance and value of building relationships. We have been talking about this as a team in the office. Relationship building has been one thing I have really enjoyed throughout my career. I have been blessed to have so many opportunities to reconnect with people I have known from previous positions, and the relationships pick right up where they left off, similar to a good friendship.
One thing I have been working hard with is developing solid relationships with our local elected officials on both sides of the aisle. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with them and connect on a personal level, as well as gain insight on where their focus lies in terms of legislative agendas. What has been positive lately is that our discussions are happening during a time when neither of us has a specific “agenda” in mind, allowing each of us to understand the other better. These great conversations allow us to talk on a deeper, more philosophical level. Talking and listening to each other in this way really makes a difference.
A few weeks ago, I was attending a community event where I saw several of the elected officials I had previously met with. Our conversations went right back into some of the same philosophical issues we had been discussing before. In fact, one of them wants to get together again soon to continue talking through a few issues they are working on. Once again, this proves how beneficial it can be to go into conversations with elected officials—or anyone for that matter—with an open mind, letting the relationship motivate you instead of a political agenda.
I share this to encourage people to take time to reach out to their elected officials, get to know them, and even attend their public town hall or community sessions. Our politics in Nebraska is very local. Our city council, school board, county board, and state legislators are all accessible, and they are eager to speak to their constituents and local groups with interests in community and state issues.
Now, think of your customers and business partners. Think about how developing a relationship with them and making a conscious effort to show them you genuinely care about your partnership can make them loyal to you over time. We often think of our sales in a transactional manner—make the sale and then move on to the next transaction. This strategy simply doesn’t work, especially in Lincoln. Businesses grow when the sales mentality becomes relationship focused. Having strong relationships with customers helps them to become long-time customers. Loyal customers will also tell others about your business and bring forward more prospective customers.
I am reminded of a friend of mine whom I rely on for service providers when I need one. Whenever I need to hire a company for a project around the house, he is usually my first call to ask for guidance. A recommendation from someone I know and trust carries a lot of weight with me, as I am sure it does with anyone.
In conclusion, I hope everyone will take a moment to reflect on the importance and value of building strong relationships with our elected officials, your team, and your customers. The relationships we invest in today will pay great dividends in the future.
LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at (402) 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.
For more information on LIBA, visit Liba.org.