So this week I can tell you I am fired up about this topic. I hate to be negative, but individuals in business need to STOP making the focus entirely on building relationships and networking like crazy. They need to instead focus on building credibility! The companies they work for also need to STOP rewarding and encouraging this behaviour. I do not care if you are Brand, Cause or Property side or you working within an emerging organization… Whether you are in sales, marketing, operations, management… Building credibility, builds successful careers and builds organizational success. Building relationships, builds a lovely circle of friends.
Relationships vs. Credibility
I am not saying that you can forget about being a nice person and building genuine relationships. You can’t be an a__hole, because nobody wants to deal with an a__hole. It has to be about performance rather than being liked. I like being liked, but I love being a part of game changing results. The big difference… Relationships in our business means the CEO takes your call and you get to pitch them something over lunch. Credibility means the CEO calls you and over lunch asks you to solve a problem for them. You want to always been seen as the pivotal piece of the equation that consistently solves problems for organization. The VALUE creator!
In any organization, credibility means your phones rings because others see you as having the consistent ability to create value or solve their problems. This is a great benefit and accomplishment regardless of your department, seniority or industry. This is where careers are built.
The Easy Short Term vs. The Long Hard Road
I cannot think of the last time I asked for a meeting as part of an effort to further build relationship with a client or potential client. It is just not who I am. Do I like most of the people I interact with daily, Absolutely! There just has to be value in investing the time in the interaction and building relationships is not enough of a reason. I feel that 1 reason individuals who focus primarily on building relationship do so is because it is easy. Going for coffee, grabbing lunch, trying a new drink spot or heading to a game… who does not like doing these things!?
Building credibility is about the long game. Credibility is not something you can just flick a switch on and declare yourself credible. Credibility is something that is earned over time and is based in consistently delivering on the value proposition you put forward. The greater the track record of performance, the greater the level of credibility earned and built.
Size for Size
It is never too early or too late to start thinking about building your credibility. In a previous business life I was fortunate you have a young Office Coordinator who built her credibility with myself and our clients quickly. From day 1 she always delivered on what she said she would do, was open in sharing when she was unsure of something and always looked for ways to make things in the office better and more efficient. Potentially one of the most credible team members I have every worked with. This credibility was earned based in consistently meeting her deliverables and taking ownership of wins and losses over our time together. 3 years later and she is now a Director with that company.
Earned and Built
The second example is directed at myself and my first real boss. Now I can tell you about how amazing I am, but it wasn’t always that way. When I first started my career I was fortunate to work for an ownership group who encouraged me to try new things for the business. As a 23 year old General Manager, I made a lot of mistakes. The directive from my then President was to learn from each mistake and never repeat mistakes. He certainly gave me the freedom to make mistakes and learn and upheld his promise to not allow me to get away with making the same mistakes twice. It took a few years for me to find my grove and really start earning credibility in my performance. He earned a lot of credibility from clients, competitors and team members alike because he consistently kept improving on previous results in 2 of the most challenging business environments. His credibility was earned on the back of 50+ years of performance in the industry and continues to this day.
The Final Bell
When it comes right down to it, focus on results. Be respectful and professional along the journey. If you can consistently deliver results that are in line with your value proposition, you will earn credibility.