When someone asks me, “What’s the secret to building a successful strategic communications firm?” I answer, in hushed, reverent tones… “Surround yourself with people smarter than you and work for smart, successful companies.”
Last fall we created, hosted and facilitated a panel discussion with six CEOs of organizations that have lasted more than 100 years. We have ongoing, sustaining relationships with all of them: Hallmark Cards, Tension, Saint Luke’s Health System, The City of Kansas City, Stinson Morrison Hecker and Alphapointe Association for the Blind. When asked how each of their businesses has stood the test of time, there was one, unifying theme: it’s all about the people. The single most important variable for long-term success is how well you attract, retain and connect with the right people.
When I think about the people that matter most to me, my head spins. I start with my family, and then roll to my colleagues at Morningstar Communications, my clients, industry contacts, alumni, civic contacts, and our extensive business networks and suppliers / partners. Then come all of my Jewish relationships, other business owners, fellow entrepreneurs in HEMP, old college buddies, neighbors, and my list goes on and on. The common ground is they are all people who matter to me.
However, this is not a numbers game. It’s not how many friends you have on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn, or followers on Twitter. Those are just pathways – opportunities to build and strengthen personal associations. It’s how you activate those relationships.
I recently gave a presentation at The Kauffman Foundation as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week on Intentional Networking. Effective networking is all about creating and fostering two-way relationships that benefit both people. This approach works for people you already know, and those you have yet to meet.
I often cite quotes from a wide array of proven leaders. This one, however, you can attribute directly to me: “The only thing you ever own is your reputation and your relationships … everything else is transitory.”
We may switch jerseys and play for a new team, clients become colleagues, employees become competitors. But one thing is absolutely certain … you truly own your ability to keep and foster great relationships.
Who matters to you? How do you build and strengthen those relationships? How do you express your appreciation and respect to them? Do you perform a random act of kindness … give an authentic compliment … comment on a post … send a hand-written thank-you note?
The most important key to long-term success is simply how well you connect with the people who matter most to you.
And that, my friends, will always be true.
Onward and upward.Tagged Eric Morgenstern, intentional networking, Morningstar Communications, people, relationships