I Don't Want to Get Your Business, I Want to Keep It
Approaching business as relationships rather than transactions
“I’m not interested in getting your business. I'm interested in keeping it.”
Harvey Spector in “Suits”
Today I attended a meeting of my local BNI Chapter.
BNI (Business Networking International) is an organization for professionals who agree to refer clients to each other's businesses.
Other business coaches I know have joined BNI and had success.
So I thought it could be a good opportunity for me.
I thought it would be a typical networking event with the digital equivalent of mingling and meaningless small talk while everyone was just waiting to talk about themselves.
Instead, I found a group of small business owners focused on building connections with each other, supporting each other, and who are committed not only to their own businesses but also to the businesses of the others in the group.
As I consider joining, there are two questions in my mind:
Could I get enough referrals to my business to make it worth the cost and time to join?
And can I provide enough referrals to others to make me a valued member of the group?
The answer to the first is undoubtedly yes.
It was that second question that I didn’t expect to have and that gives me pause.
It is tied to the idea that business isn’t just a series of transactions.
Business is relationships.
Business is providing value, not just extracting value.
If we treat others as ATMs, sure, we might have some financial success.
But over the long term, we’ll develop a reputation as a person who only cares about others for what they can provide for or do for us.
And beyond that, we’ll miss out on the opportunity to develop meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships that can bring us joy and connection as well as more money in our bank accounts.
When you take an approach to business that is based on relationships first, it can be hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
I’ve been in the marketing/business coaching space for over two years now.
There are plenty of gurus and bro marketers out there shouting promises about scaling, getting hundreds and thousands of clients, and making ridiculous amounts of money.
I’ve fallen for their siren call more than once and handed over far too much money for what turned out to be empty promises.
They never cared about me or my success.
They only cared about my credit card.
I promised myself never to be like them.
I don’t want to scale.
I don’t want to churn through clients.
I don’t want to work with clients for one or two months and then chao.
I want to work with a handful of clients and make a massive difference in their businesses and in their lives.
I want to work with them for years.
I want us to grow together.
I want to contribute to their personal and professional growth and for them to contribute to mine.
I have a few clients like this already.
And working with them has been rewarding in so many ways.
So that is why I say, like Harvey Spector, that I don’t want to get your business.
I want to keep it.