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Building Strong Relationships, Pt. 1

I am a social person. One of my top 5 strengths is WOO - Winning Over Others. I like to talk. I have been (and still am) an educator, a trainer and a facilitator. So when I first became a part of the marketing department at Columbia College I struggled a bit in identifying myself as a marketer. But then I ran across this definition: "Marketing is a social process involving the activities necessary to enable individuals and organizations to obtain what they need and want through exchanges with others and to develop ongoing relationships." I'm a marketer!! I participate in exchanges with others in order to develop relationships on a daily basis - that's what my job as a business developer for Columbia College is! I build my relationships in order to gain knowledge (and marketing content), which in turn helps me establish strong B2B partnerships. 

I recently read a book by Seth Godin, entitled "Linchpin - Are You Indispensable?" He shares that in every workplace there used to be two teams - management and labor. Now there's a third team - the linchpins. Linchpins figure out what to do when there's no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers. They love their work and turn each day into a kind of art. Work is a chance to do art. Every interaction you have with a coworker or customer is an opportunity to practice the art of interaction. The operative work for me here is practice. Every time I have a meeting I take the time to process after - what went well, what should I have improved on? And then, I take these tips and practice them during my next interaction.

Godin talks about the culture of connection. Virtually all of us make our living engaging directly with other people. When the interactions are genuine and transparent, they usually work. When they are artificial or manipulative, they fail. What that says to me is that you have to believe in who you are, what you do, what your company does. In a previous life I had a job that changed from one where I had been traveling around the country developing and delivering training (and developing relationships) to one where I was relegated to phone sales, selling a product I wasn't all that proud of. Granted, I know that some people are amazingly successful at phone sales, but since I was selling something I didn't believe in I sounded more like a vendor - my interactions were artificial. Now at Columbia College, I believe in the quality of our product and I'm proud of the institution. This feeling of pride is apparent in my interactions with others - I sound genuine because I am!

In my next post I'll continue with Godin's concept of the culture of connection and his belief that the linchpin comes from a posture of generosity, and is there to give a gift. If that's your intent, the words almost don't matter. I hope you'll continue reading!

Workforce, Coworkers, Teamwork

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Portrait of Ann Merrifield