The magical sauce of networking: Make friends of your agents
One of my favorite quotes regarding friendship in business is from the world’s first billionaire:
“A friendship founded on business is a good deal better than a business founded on friendship.” – John D. Rockefeller
Now I know that many of you will think my choice of this quote is quite cheeky. “This isn’t about business networking with friends,” you might chide, “It is about forming business and letting the friendship follow.” But I would argue that is what a business-to-business network does. We put people together who don’t know one another or have not had much chance to do business together in the past and provide a platform for them to make business with one another.
In my years of business at all levels and in every company and location that I have worked in I have found Rockefeller’s statement to be true. I would like to take a moment and focus on the first part of this statement, the ‘friendship founded on business’.
We do our utmost to promote friendships founded on business throughout our networks. Not only is it more pleasant for all parties but there are some very practical points that I think are worth mentioning. When I consider the points I find that friendship’s biggest ingredient in helping develop business comes from the mutual trust that is built on fondness and familiarity. I’d like for you to consider the good points of working with your agents as you’d work with friends.
People want to give you more business
Friends will go the extra mile to give their friends business. They will help on price points. They will help with more sales information. They will even give you business when your price might be a little higher than parties they don’t know or don’t share as good a feeling or closeness. You have been through things together that you haven’t with others and that has to count for something.
Friendship often permeates throughout both organizations
It doesn’t matter whether you are the hub of the wheel or the cog. When your colleagues see that you have a special relationship with a person in a particular firm it is not rare to find that they will tend to cultivate a similar relationship with them. The flip side is also true. If you harbor animosity toward someone your colleagues are more likely to be less cooperative with them. Friendship is often the grease that lubricates the machine regarding inter-company dealings.
You are better able to work out problems
Problems are part of life. If you do business long enough there will always be issues that crop up from time to time. Some issues will be more serious than others. Working from a basis of friendship however will tend to lessen the severity of these matters and also will make both parties much more cooperative in finding solutions that suit both parties. Friendship can allow compromises that are unforeseen between parties who don’t have as close a working relationship.
Business will last longer
When working from a point of trust you are able to continue business for a much longer duration. You will find opportunities to grow with one another. You will see each other’s children grow up and, hopefully, grandchildren as well. Your companies and lives will intertwine. Between friends horizons stretch further.
It is for all of the above reasons and more that we want our members to form informal business partnerships in our networks. And it is the reason we want to form informal business partnerships with all of our members. If life isn’t about the relationships you choose then we all need to re-evaluate what we are doing. As for me, I’ve made my decision and that is to surround myself with as many good people as possible. And that’s why I feel blessed to know you all.
Gary Dale Cearley is the Managing Director of Advanced International Networks Ltd. (AIN), one of the fastest growing and most dynamic business-to-business networking organizations in the world. AIN’s networks include AerOceaNetwork (AON), XLProjects Network (XLP), and AiO Logistics Netowork (AiO). Gary Dale has been in many facets of international freight forwarding for more than two decades from operations to sales to the owner of the first 100% foreign owned freight forwarding company licensed in Vietnam. The companies that he has been involved with have been both generalists and specialists. He has also worked from large European and Asian multinationals (Danzas and Hankyu Express) as well has small start up forwarders. For the past ten years Gary Dale has owned and operated AIN. He has lived in several major cities in four different countries and he is multilingual. Currently Gary Dale runs the AIN operation from Bangkok, Thailand, but travels the world over.
Gary Dale welcomes all sorts of interactions. If you have questions or comments about anything Gary Dale has written here you may contact him directly by e-mail.