Intentionally Natural: A Hybrid Approach to Creating and Fostering Relationships
Just like everyone else, I make good decisions, and I make poor ones. Last Friday, I made a relatively poor one by opening a few messages that had been gathering digital dust in my LinkedIn inbox. All of them contained three very similar traits:
- Each was unsolicited
- Each promised some easy way to help grow brandivate
- Each message was strictly a copy-and-paste job that said something very similar to the below:
“If you could have RED-HOT, watering-at-the-mouth, ready-to-buy potential client appointments that magically appeared on your calendar every day, would you be open to a quick call?”
As a salesperson, there’s a part of me (a VERY small part) that respects the overly-hyphenated calls to action, even as they border on begging. While the messages were intentional as they were targeted directly at me, none of them contained any sort of soul and, therefore, felt both fake and spammy. So, despite the seemingly endless messages proclaiming how an organization will help accelerate and strengthen client relationships, I know there aren’t shortcuts to finding fresh prospects or building meaningful connections with new clients.
The word “relationship” is an article whose definition is both simple and beguiling at the same time. Unfortunately, when it comes to building business relationships, there seem to be two schools of thought with very little room for compromise:
1. Build Organically – allowing things to happen naturally through interaction, open communication, and shared goals
2. Build Intentionally – creating and executing a plan that is both authentic and based on meaningful contact with the client
Much like the Hatfields and the McCoys, these two philosophies of creating meaningful relationships seem to have impassioned believers on either side. The group that believes only in building organically generally assumes that client relationships are either meant to happen, or they are not. Meanwhile, the group that believes only in being intentional presumes that with the right amount of planning and deliberate action will sway even the most resistant of prospects.
Being solely intentional takes away much of the humanity in the sales process by forcing things to happen in ways that may alienate the prospect. Focusing only on building organically ignores the fact that there has to be some semblance of intentionality for any relationship to begin in the first place.
The best approach is a hybrid technique that I call "Intentionally Organic" and define as purposefully creating situations where relationships have the opportunity to happen organically. This strategy is valid for all relationships—business and otherwise.
For example, if someone doesn’t pick up the phone, create a marketing campaign or otherwise attempt to reach a prospect, nothing organic can have the opportunity to transpire. Intentional action must take place first. Once that happens, only then is there potential for organic growth due to conversations and shared experiences, which, over time, forms bonds without force.
To reach their maximum potential, relationships must be continually nurtured, which means there is always a need for both intentional effort and organic growth. This is a simple truth of life regardless of the type of relationship: colleague, client, family or friends. Even after a connection is established, the relationship will fade away without continual and intentional effort to create space for organic growth.
To find new client relationships—especially in the digitized pandemic world – one must be intentionally organic. The LinkedIn solicitation InMails were intentional, but because they lacked any suggestion of warmth or the possibility for organic growth, they will linger in message purgatory forever. Intention must be coupled with humanity, or the approach will put off the vast majority of the target audience, and you’ll end up being remembered as a poor decision.
Bill has over 20 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products companies, always working collaboratively to achieve the “wow” desired by the target audience.
A Managing Partner at brandivate, a full-service marketing services and advertising agency, Bill is featured speaker at numerous national and international events, a serial creator of content marketing, and co-host of the industry-leading podcast, Promo UPFront. Bill has extensive experience defining brand strategy, creating successful marketing campaigns, creating and developing winning RFP responses, and presenting winning promotional products solutions to Fortune 500 clients.
A fierce advocate for the Promotional Products Industry, he is the Immediate Past President of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, has worked closely with senior leadership at Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) on many committees and work groups. In appreciation of his years of service to the promotional products industry, Bill was named as an inaugural PPAI Fellow—a program designed to recognize influential individuals who have actively supported the industry through personal involvement.
Bill lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of 26 years, Sandy, and their 17-year-old twin boys, Drew and Mitch.