When I first started helping people build their business relationships, I very nearly called my business ‘Never Eat Alone’, because eating and drinking with people is so central to relationship marketing. However, there are many other relationship marketing approaches, as I’m covering in this blog series, so I chose to call my business Relationology instead. I tell this story to highlight how important I think it is who we eat and drink with.
There is something very powerful about eating and drinking with people. The invitation to eat together says I am interested in getting to know you as a person, because no one talks business the entire way through a meal, and sometimes business meetings can be exactly that. Doing business consistently, honestly and well, builds trust. However, what builds a more profound level of trust is the interpersonal chemistry you create in a relationship, and how much you are genuinely interested in the person rather than just what they can do for you. There are few better ways to establish that kind of trust in relationship marketing, than over a meal.
So, the invitation to eat and drink with someone implicitly says I want to develop a trust-based relationship with you. Nothing you invest in the non-transactional dimensions of a relationship will ever be wasted. Over time they become the bridge of trust across which you can drive great achievements in relationship marketing.
One of my mottos is that “You can’t have the same relationship with everyone you know.” In the same vein, you can’t have lunch with everyone you know, so how do you pick and choose? Elsewhere I have written extensively about differentiated relationships, and how we filter relationships with integrity. In summary, it’s about managing our time, energy and resources in giving a lot of ourselves to a few, and a little of ourselves to many. Eating and drinking with others is one of the best ways we can invest a lot in a few. Hosting an event is a way of investing a little of ourselves with many.
Relationship Marketing Question: Who would it be good for you to reach out to right now and invite them out for a meal?
Author: Matt Bird, Author Relationology