Why You Should Build External Relationships
When someone asks me what I have enjoyed the most as a leader and entrepreneur, one of my favorite answers is the opportunity to build relationships, both internal and external. I can imagine this to be a daunting task for many, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this part of my role.
In some of my previous newsletters, we have discussed internal relationships like peer relationships, relationships with your managers and more. But today I want to talk about external relationships i.e. building a community outside of work.
I have been fortunate because this role comes naturally to me. I thoroughly enjoy representing the company I work for and my teams to the external world. However, the role isn’t as glamorous as it looks from the outside. It’s exhausting and difficult but absolutely necessary. It does take a lot of your mental and physical bandwidth. But in the long run, these relationships help a lot.
How you can leverage external relationships
I was thrown into this role right from the start of my career. Among other roles, I also served as the spokesperson for my first entrepreneurial venture. This required me to identify and forge many strong external relationships. Over the years, I have used this role in my organization’s favor in the following ways:
Explore new business opportunities: These relationships can help you find new customers, partnerships and alliances.
Find potential investors: External relationships can also help you find potential investors.
Create thought leadership: Relationships with the media, industry bodies and the community can help you establish your company as a thought leader.
Be close to the regulators and policymakers: If you’re part of a business that is regulated, then these relationships help to build rapport with regulators and the people who define the future of your category through policymaking.
Attracting talent: When you reach out to people beyond your organization and share your mission and vision with them, you also open the doors for talent to reach out to your organization.
Should you do it or not?
Even after knowing the benefits of these relationships, you will always find yourself trying to weigh whether you should invest your time on these efforts. There will be many days when you will have to choose between a media interaction and a prospective client call and a client call or a team meeting will look more important almost all the time.
So how do you push yourself to prioritize this part of your role? Here are some practices that have helped me:
Tell yourself, it’s important for the organization: While it’s not possible to attend every industry event or be a part of all media interactions or business get-togethers, repeatedly telling yourself that it is important for the organization helps you to prioritize the more important ones.
Remind yourself, it’s part of your role: If you keep considering it as an additional responsibility, you will never be able to focus on building solid relationships. Remind yourself that it’s part of your core role and you are responsible for making your organization and people look good. Treat it as a privilege.
Stay grounded in doing it: It looks glamorous to be the spokesperson. You will be in the media, at events and people will know you. Don’t let that get the better of you. Stay grounded and know that this is an important role you need to play.
Prepare yourself before events: It always pays to know what you want to achieve from industry events. It’s very easy to get carried away but having an agenda always helps. Know who you want to meet and what you want to talk about. After all, it is your precious time.
Invest in good public relations team: Making an investment in a PR team can help share the burden to manage this. They will not only help you prepare for a lot of these meetings and events but also push you to invest your time in building these very critical relationships.
As companies scale up, it is important to not only to build these relationships, but also nurture them. It consumes a lot of time and effort, and more than often now, extremely tiring. However, these deliver positive return on investment over time.
Do you invest in external relationships? If yes, how? If not, why? Do share in the comments.
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