MEDMIX – Español Michal Najwer, M/J 18.00-19.00 Jun-Dic23 Marga Adobes

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Making Business Relationships Count

Almost everything in our lives evolves around the relationships we build through time. While the debate of working alone or as part of a team will always have its pros and cons, it is simply impossible, if not unimaginable, to build a business without investing in relationships. In fact, despite the challenges and lessons that these will surely bring about, relationships are an important asset for any business.

Understanding Business Relationships

Companies that intentionally cultivate and maintain connections may be more successful than those that ignore these connections. According to investopedia.com, strong business relations can promote customer awareness, customer retention, and collaboration between businesses in the supply chain.

So naturally, we consider customers, business partners, stakeholders and board members as the main participants in these business relationships. However, businesses equally depend on the development and maintenance of vital relations with employees, suppliers, media, as well as government agencies and service providers. Therefore, anyone connected in any way through a business, whether that be in-house or external, plays a part in the success of any business.

Networking vs. Socializing

It is necessary to understand the purpose of our interaction with business relations, as this knowledge is key before initiating conversations. Knowing the purpose for which you are engaging with someone will give you control over the direction in which that relationship will grow. Taking part in social activities, whether they be business-related or personal, are intended to meet with others for pleasure. This is not to be confused with networking, the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients or customers. And mutually beneficial is the key word here. According to an Oxford Economics Study, networking at trade shows and conferences helps companies obtain up to 20% of their new customers.

Where Networking Happens

The key to building positive and long-lasting relationships is having the will to meet new people and stepping out of your comfort zone. According to an article published by Forbes, “networks are really just a collection of friends, teammates, and acquaintances” and in them, relationships are balanced, meaning that care and help go both ways. However, it is not about giving everyone you know a business card, it is about engaging and getting to know others.

Business networking has traditionally taken place at trade conferences, job fairs, business association events and such. However, just like technology and social media have revolutionized the way people do business nowadays, so have the places where people and businesses network. Sites like LinkedIn, with over 744 million users worldwide, and apps like Instagram, have become the new norm. This active social media interaction means people will already know a lot about you, even before meeting face-to-face.

Values Drive Relationships

Lasting business relationships do not just happen overnight, they need consistent and dedicated work so that they are strong enough to be able to rely on them if needed. Building better business relationships starts by being authentic, in other words, be who you are and build relationships with others that you naturally connect with. While some people often use a different “persona”, or character, when engaging with others, especially online, networking specialists advise against this.

Kathleen Carley, behavioral scientist and researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, agrees that “building business relationships is all about shared values. It will be very hard to connect with others that have very different standards from yours. Some of these may be moral character, respect for others, trust and honesty.” A recent study of business trends suggests that showing vulnerability is positive for building good relationships because it shows your human side and it is also part of your authenticity.

Why Build Better Business Relationships

Business relationships, unlike cash, are not a diminishing resource, they can only multiply. This is the main reason they are so important to have and cultivate through time. They rely mostly on trust, loyalty, and communication. A trustworthy business relationship will result in employee satisfaction, co-operation, motivation, and innovation. In addition, business relationships built on loyalty help companies create and be surrounded by strong and long-lasting relationships with employees, customers, and providers.

There may be times when a business is running short on money or perhaps it is just a startup with limited time and, what element will always be at hand? Human resource and business relationships. Establishing good networking protocols in the early stages of a company can facilitate and improve planning and policymaking. From a financial standpoint, business relations can often determine the success or failure of a company. Strong business relations create a competitive advantage, while weak relations lead to unfavorable outcomes, including unhappy employees, dissatisfied customers, negative reputations, and limited growth.

If Time is Money, How Should you Manage it?

When is the best time to get something done? There are a lot of different ways to answer this question. As a workforce productivity consultant, my initial reaction is “Whenever you have time to do it!”. At first, that might sound like a riddle, but I promise it isn’t; it is just a reflection of the busy lives most of us lead. However there are definitely techniques you can use to get more done within the limited time frames available to you. 

A number of men and women, even some of the highest-performing professionals in every field, consistently undervalue and under-appreciate what can actually be accomplished in 10 or 15 minutes of uninterrupted work. You might not be able to finish that important presentation, but you could take the first steps, like brainstorming ideas, making an outline of the first few slides, sending an e-mail information request, or writing an introduction.

Life is full of opportunities to get a few minutes of productivity in, rather than feeling bored, wasting time or even worse, feeling stressed about not having enough time. We just need to take better advantage of time. The key is to find and recognize those opportunities, while at the same time breaking some of our worst time management habits. And that is usually the hardest part for most of us. Here are a handful of tips to help you get started.

Waste Fewer Minutes

Many of my clients are not truly aware of just how much time gets away from them in a normal day. If you consider the time spent waiting on phone calls, refocusing after a work disruption, or chatting with colleagues about nothing in particular, it can add up to a few hours each week. That in itself should be incentive enough to start taking advantage of those moments.

Meetings are a perfect example of this. Not only regarding time spent on them, but also the financial impact of inefficient meetings. It is estimated that over $37 billion in salary cost is wasted each year in the USA alone, in having people attend unnecessary meetings.

Prioritize More

There is no use in completing relatively unimportant tasks if you have not finished your most important work yet. Learn to organize and rank your tasks so you work on your most important and time-critical projects first. It might be tempting to move on to something that is easier, more fun, or certainly more interesting, but doing so will ultimately only cost you more time and stress down the line.

Learn to Focus

I often advise my clients and seminar attendees to schedule a block of time each morning – around 90 minutes is ideal – to work on their most important tasks and projects. By limiting interruptions during that session, they get to start off the day having accomplished something that is critical to their job, or having moved forward on something important. Usually, the momentum from that will keep them productive for the rest the day, or at the very least prevent them from getting too busy or distracted to finish their most critical “must do” tasks.

Maintain a Tight Timetable

Not many of us buy things without asking the price first, but many professionals think nothing of treating their schedule as open-ended. When budgeting your money, you set amounts of money to specific accounts in order to be sure the money does not run out before expenses are met. Apply this the same process for budgeting your time by scheduling groups of like items and putting them on your calendar so that everything fits. Leave some open space for the unexpected, but not more than 10%.

Different Times, Different Approach

Now that many of us have become “hybrid employees”, spending part of our time working remotely from home and other times at the office, the value of time has never been more apparent. And as such, our use of work time has to adapt to these current circumstances.

For example, before you create that calendar invite, ask yourself if a meeting is the only way the information can be shared. Instead, meetings should be reserved for creating actions from a proposal. The most efficient organizations recognize that consensus-gathering and decisionmaking should be split. Information and feedback can largely be accomplished asynchronously, saving precious synchronous meeting time (and money) for finalizing decisions after key stakeholders have reviewed the necessary written input.

There isn’t a scientific formula for time management, but establishing a basic framework and slowly determining what works and what does not, can make all the difference.

What’s your EQ? How to develop your brand’s emotional quotient*

People make buying decisions based on logic, right? Consider the coffeemaker you have at home. When you bought it you probably looked at price and function, but you might have also considered the color, the packaging and perhaps an appealing image of a family making coffee. When you explain your choice you will surely use logical reasons, but emotions are what really motivated you to make the purchase. 

Understanding EQ

Countless articles talk about the amazing power that emotional intelligence has on marketing success, but they never tell you how to apply it to your own campaigns. How do you incorporate emotional intelligence in marketing to create successful, long-term campaigns? Does your team need EQ coaching? Probably.

Emotional intelligence in marketing is not just about trying to obtain an emotional response from customers, or using an informal tone in your message. It’s not about using a cool image either. You have to go deeper. Marketers who use emotional intelligence to develop highly successful campaigns share these three elements: They have honest motives; they empathise with their audience and they bridge the gap between what they want, and what their customers want. It’s the human approach to marketing.

Why your brand needs EQ

As technology and data revolutionize our ability to target our market and deliver relevant messages to smaller, specialized audiences, the need for a more personal, human-to-human connection increases. The more technical marketing gets, the more human it must become. When everyone uses the same technology, using emotional intelligence in marketing becomes your competitive advantage.

Traditionally, companies would market to a broad audience. The broader the audience, the more generic the message had to be. As we move towards 1-to-1 marketing, we need to talk to people by relating to them on a human level. This requires emotional awareness on the part of the marketer.

The Research Behind EQ

Most businesses still focus on the rational benefits of their product such as price and functional features. But people make purchase decisions based on more than rationale; there is always an emotional element. Decisions are made with a mix of intellect and emotion. In one recent study, psychologists used electroencephalogram (EEG) headsets to observe emotional responses in the brain as participants watched different advertisements. The findings pointed to a double-digit increase in sales for those ads that had a positive emotional effect.

When journalist, Daniel Goleman first introduced the idea of EQ in his book, Emotional Intelligence, he identified four areas that contribute to emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills. These qualities also make an excellent framework for companies to apply EQ to their marketing efforts.

First Steps Towards EQ

Before rushing into creating a new campaign, it’s best to go through a carefully developed EQ process. Now that you know how customers use emotions to justify purchases, consider how these might fit the logic of your brand. Start by using your website and social media channels, you can easily identify and promote these emotional aspects.

This might mean researching your customer base and competitors for the key emotions they employ. Work on creating consistent messages and designs that appeal to those emotions as well as the logic people will use to justify buying your product or service. Tying emotion to logic will make your business stand out from competitors and lead to stronger sales.

Using EQ as a Key Value

Effective marketing solves a “pain point” or fulfils a need. Offering value that makes someone’s life better is what every great marketer should aim for. Empathy in marketing means putting yourself in your audience’s situation. By being empathetic, you will adjust your motives, your message and
how you deliver that message.

Emotionally intelligent campaigns don’t get “tunnel vision”. It’s not about achieving profits at all costs. It’s about achieving your goals while building relationships with your audience. Emotional intelligence is not something that you add at the end. The principles must influence every aspect of the marketing plan. Otherwise, it will be very hard to maintain EQ when challenges come up.

* quotient (noun): degree or amount of something

Zappos is a true American success story. Not only is it a financial success, but an amazing place to work at. Zappos is an online retailer that sells shoes and other merchandise and has approximately 1500 employees at their Las Vegas headquarters.

Unplanned Beginnings

The year was 1999, and Zappos founder, Nick Swinmurn, was shopping at a San Francisco mall looking for a pair of brown Airwalk boots. One store had the right style, but not the right color. Another store had the right color, but not the right size. Searching for hours, Nick left emptyhanded and frustrated. At that moment, by identifying the gap between what customers needed and what online retail could offer, Nick decided to quit his day job and solve this problem himself…

The idea was simple in concept but not so simple in execution. Nick wanted to serve those customers who wished to shop beyond their local stores. So, he launched ShoeSite.com, which was soon changed to Zappos.com, an adaptation of “zapatos,” the Spanish word for shoes. In 2009 Zappos as listed at Number 23 on Fortune magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work, and has maintained a spot on the list ever since.

More Than Shoes

Over the years, Zappos has evolved its product selection to include clothing, handbags, and accessories. The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is its focus on the customer. As a service company at heart, Zappos’ purpose is to live and deliver “WOW”. This obsession led it to become one of the first online retailers to offer free next-day shipping and free returns. Furthermore, and as online reviews have come to show, their 365-day return policy gives even the most indecisive shopper time to contemplate their purchase.

Leadership as a Value

Tony Hsieh is the CEO and co-founder of Zappos, and as a self-proclaimed, “regular guy”, it is not surprising to find him talking to his employees whether it’s in meetings or in the parking lot. In fact, his desk sits in the middle of the admin department. This is remarkable when you consider Hsieh is worth over a billion dollars. This Harvard graduate understands that creating a great place to work is not just about him—it is about creating a friendly, customer-focused work atmosphere that generates results.

Positive Work Culture

The genesis of the friendly office environment at Zappos is driven by ten guiding values the company has established and is keen to share. These values guide the direction of the organization like the sails on a sailboat. They include statements like “Deliver WOW through Service” and “Embrace and Drive Change”, to “Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit” and “Pursue Growth and Learning”.

The important difference between these values and others is how they were created. Instead of a top-down approach like many other organizations, the employees helped refine and shape these values by providing their own opinions. When the employees have a say, there is alignment, acceptance and total employee engagement. Hsieh and his team believe in continuous learning and encourage everyone to read business books and further their training.

Hiring the Right People

According to the HR managers, it is easier to get accepted at Harvard University than to get a job at Zappos. Based on Jim Collin’s book, From Good to Great, they believe if you employ the correct staff you will create a great company. However, not everyone is a match for Zappos. Applicants may have up to four or more interviews before they are offered a job. Additionally, they must attend a four-week training program. Finally, new employees are offered $2,000 to leave if they decide Zappos is not the place for them. Less than 2% take the money.

The principle is simple. If you employ the appropriate staff, treat them well and put them in a high performance environment, they will generate results and do it gladly. In the past ten years Zappos has grown from $1.6 million to $1.1 billion in sales. Seventy-five percent of its sales is based on repeat customers. Despite the financial success, the company’s number one motivation is not so much the money, as it is to deliver happiness to its customers, employees and vendors. And it certainly seems Zappos is doing that better than most.

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