Smart entrepreneurs understand the value of building relationships. Connecting with others helps us grow – both personally and professionally.
Just visit your local Starbucks, Panera Bread or la Madeleine during lunchtime on a weekday, and you’re likely to find at least a few business owners sharing ideas, brainstorming solutions or just getting to know each other. These familiar locations provide a comfortable environment, neutral ground and usually free Wi-Fi!
But could these venues be a little too comfortable, generic or even (dare I say it) boring? Perhaps a tad less comfort and a change of pace would shake things up and keep us on our toes – you know, get more blood flowing and spark those brilliant ideas that seem to come out of the blue.
A colleague recently suggested a relationship-building idea especially made for me.
She had just joined me on a short “reposition” flight in the D.C. area – which entails a one-way drive and one-way flight to relocate an airplane for an owner with a fractional share in a Cirrus aircraft. The process boils down to approximately 90 minutes of driving (great for undisturbed conversation and collaboration), followed by a 30-minute flight over the D.C. landscape, which is always breathtaking.
I do these “reposition” flights a couple times per month. Occasionally, I invite friends and colleagues to join me. But Akia recommended that I take it a step further and use this as a unique networking tool for building business relationships.
What a brilliant suggestion! This experience definitely has the potential to shift people out of their comfort zones and to get them thinking in new ways. And what could be more fun than combining my passion for flying with my passion for business?
These “drive ‘n fly” meetings are now part of my 2013 plan. Less time in Starbucks – more time on “Taussig Air.” I’ll let you know how it goes.
So, what can you do to spice up your business relationships in 2013? Please share your ideas below, and let us know how it works out.
Here’s to trying something new in 2013!
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Randy- Good idea to help people shift perspective to see things in new ways. Usually it takes a new experience to help people see things in different ways or get fresh ideas. I base my job and life coaching practice on this philosophy and quote, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” As a coach, I can challenge people to look at things differently and support people to see their situation or barrier in new ways. The key is whether people are bold enough or open enough to change how they see things. From there all things are possible. Linda J. Ferguson
What a great idea! Part of staying ahead of the curve involves the willingness to expose yourself to new experiences, providing an opportunity to see what you could not see before. This can only happen when something different is in our line of sight; theoretically or literally. In 2013, I am going to focus on new and unfamiliar venues for business and networking conversations. An example might be to meet with a colleague while walking instead of over coffee. The important thing is to be intentional about not defaulting to “business as usual.” Thank you, Randy!
This is a great idea…many professionals would have looked at their 2013 plan and said “I can’t afford to waste time flying around and need to spend more time on my business.” — then they’d not only scratch their hobby but eliminate or severely reduce part of what makes them fully rounded.
I’ve been in corporate sales for almost 20 years, but I remember back to when I was in college to a similar situation.
After classes I would sell replacement windows and vinyl siding to row home owners in down town Baltimore (think Tin Men, but ethical!). I arrived a preset appointment and the older lady at the door said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to meet with you because of all the errands I have to run, and I’m about to miss the bus!”.
Being that I was only provided one real lead per day from the home office I didn’t want to squander this opportunity (and didn’t want to cold call in 95 degree weather), so I offered to chauffeur her around in my air-conditioned car and help her with loading/unloading.
By the end of the day, my prospect was a customer and she got a break from public transportation and a hand with her groceries, etc. She also was the beneficiary of some great looking, energy efficient windows!
Looking for upside in an otherwise non-productive situation probably falls into one of those “small decisions” we make to propel us forward. Great idea on leveraging your aviation passion into a relationship development tool Randall!
I love it, Randy! You’re so right. I do plenty of those “cafe meetings” you mention here. I would imagine many entrepreneurs struggle with what comes next, after that initial meeting. After all, I’d rather have 15 or 20 meaningful business relationships than 100 superficial ones. What better way to deepen those relationships (and provide an opportunity for creativity to emerge) than what you recommend here!?
I suppose I’ll be taking some people boating this summer … and I’ll be thinking about other creative ideas as well. Thank you for this!
Randy – This is a great article and idea! I LOVE getting to know people on a much deeper level than what typically occurs at networking events. I also LOVE helping people in any way; changing their tire, pulling them out of the snow, providing referrals, helping them experience life. The last one is really interesting and produces some amazing life results. I found that when you help people experience life in “different” ways than they’re used to, you are building a bond with that person and vice versa. I frequently invite people I meet to join me on a hike, paintball, sporting clays, kayaking, etc…Or, if they aren’t into any of those things, we can do what they enjoy. It’s almost as if the experience is thrusting you into a friendship instead of a business transaction. And, if you end up not hanging out with that person or working together, they will always remember you and your “adventure” together. Extremely successful businesses have been formed around such adventure networking. See MaverickBusinessAdventures.com and Summit.co
Now that’s the “thinking out of the box” that we need in today’s business climate. With all the emails, social media and impersonal interactions, we need to get back to the basics and that is building relationships. Another good idea is to meet up at non-traditional fun locations that can combine exercise (even just walking) such as the Zoo, dog parks for those that have dogs, etc.
Happy Successful New Year to all!!
Thanks for challenging us to think of ways to build our business relationships in 2013. People are conditioned to think of contacts as relationships…but it just isn’t so.
Sharing experience, sharing ideas, sharing values are ingredients for transforming contacts into relationships.Love that the shared experience you are providing is a creative way of incubating relationship.
In 2013 I want to enhance my business relationships by connecting others with similar values and vision. Community is a powerful force. I love the idea of seeding new collaborations.
Glad you sparked this conversation. It helped me formalize this intention.
Best wishes for a 2013 filled with health and new relationships.
Thanks for some great comments and suggestions. Please keep them coming!
This is wonderful Randy and just what we spoke of right after our heart work during the Take Flight retreat… being true to your gifts and talents will allow others to benefit and gain incredible insight and have an experience like no other. I’m looking forward to my Tassig Air experience. Let’s Take Flight! This is a beautiful idea. It makes wonderful sense to who you are and what you have to offer!
Fantastic suggestion, Randy. Any routine, environmental or otherwise, allows us to operate with muscle memory instead of conscious thought. That’s great for commuting to work but not ideal for creative thinking, the life blood of entrepreneurial ventures. I’m booking my next flight on Taussig Air today. Until then, I’ll take my next business coffee meeting “to go” – opting for fresh air and a dynamic environment (albeit at ground level) over the staid setting of the neighborhood cafe.
Great idea, Randy! Companies like Google have always had creative spaces where employees can let their innovative juices flow…so how about for us business networkers? Maybe this could be a new business model for someone to create — a fresh environment that stimulates creativity and collaboration. Whether in the air or on the ground, you’re on to something, Randy!
Wonderful idea and a great example that provokes my creativity. I find that changing perspective changes perceptions. Any shift in perspective both opens new possibility and also squirts a bit of emotional juice into our systems so we are more alert and remember our experiences more vividly. It’s good for networking, for marketing, and for vitality. As an executive advisor, I routinely ask leaders to shift positions, walk as we talk or change venues, but I’ve gotten comfortable with the convenience of the local “spot” to network. Good to remember that people enjoy something fun and new. Hmmm. More ballgames, walks, a trip to the toy store to explore metaphors? Thanks.
Randy, this is simply brilliant! I love that you’re able to combine your passion with your intention of deepening relationships with those that are important to you and in turn, further your business goals. Incredible.
I’m loving your entire blog, Randy. i guess we’ve been up in the air enough times now (3 or so) for me to know how to fly for myself. The time we’ve shared, on and off ground, has truly been wonderful and has provided such great insight into not only who you are, but also, how you’re working to bring excellence to the concept of small business leadership. Keep writing. Very inspiring.
Thank you Randy for the AMAZING and once-in-a-lifetime experience of drive and flight networking! It was an extraordinary experience and you are one of the most meticulous people I know. I trusted you with my life and I don’t do that with just anyone! There was not a single moment when I felt nervous, anxious or concerned. Thanks for allowing me to learn more about you, your business philosophies and being interested in learning more about mine. You’re a fabulous teacher and an exceptional pilot! Any leader would learn valuable lessons for business and for life throughout this experience… so many metaphors to help guide us through open skies!
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