Business Development is Relationship Development

Business Development is Relationship Development:

It’s about Them—NOT You!

by Marty Maddin


In a world where everyone is vying for attention and recognition, running around town shouting out why you and your firm are the best can be tempting.  In many cases, you may be the most experienced, sophisticated or accomplished professional in a particular niche.  The problem with the approach is that no one cares!  That may seem a little harsh, but the reality is that people are interested in knowing what’s in it for them.  Put another way, your prospects and clients need to be heard and understood first in order for them to trust you and to recognize that you may have something of value to offer them.


To that end, here are three tips to keep in mind when meeting with people:


  1. Talk less and listen more – When you think of rainmakers, do they tend to do more talking or listening?  It’s a balance, but they lean heavily towards more listening than talking. If you are talking a lot, you have less time to connect with people and listen for their needs.


  1. “Ask” more than you “tell” – Successful rainmakers know that it’s in their best interest to do more asking than telling.  By asking questions you invite people to open up, which is when you can learn more about them and their current opportunities and challenges.  While they’re sharing, you have the opportunity to listen for their needs, which you may be able to help meet.


  1. Listen for opportunities to be helpful – Not surprisingly, the most successful business developers also tend to be the best connectors and “givers.”  They listen for opportunities to make meaningful and beneficial connections to others in their network.  They also listen for opportunities to be a helpful resource, without seeking anything in return.


Remember, business development is relationship development; and relationships are not meant to be one-sided or “efficient.”  The more you make the relationship about “them,” the more success you’ll have in building connections that are value-based and that will lead to long-term, sustainable business growth.