Sunday, January 2, 2011

More Lessons from Kroger

How many of these go into a good
networking relationship?
Yesterday I talked about the lesson of relationships being important to continued success in business. The example was our local Kroger store. Lisa and I had to start shopping there when the one we'd gone to for years closed down. This new (to us) place just doesn't hold the same magic as the first one and it's all about our lack of relationships with anyone there. The problem is that we never seem to see the same people working there twice.

And that's the topic of today's lesson.

As we've already said, the best business comes from established relationships. Those relationships don't happen when you only see the other person once. I think most of us understand that when it comes to our personal friendships. Heck, we've probably seen our closest and dearest friends hundreds, if not thousands of times.

So, why do we think it's going to be different for our business relationships?

If you think about it, it's really common sense. For someone to refer business to us, they really have to know who we are, what we do, how well we do it, who we're looking to serve, and how much we care. Chances are, they're going to have to like us, too. That just can't happen after a five minute conversation at a Chamber networking lunch.

Heck, it probably won't even happen after only one or two coffees or lunches.

The best networking relationships unfold over time. You see each other periodically. You maintain contact in between. You share ideas and information. You learn about each other and do each other favors.

Wait a minute. That almost sounds like a friendship. I guess it's not a bad way to do business, too.

Photo credit: Phanuphong Paothong

2 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more! After 4 years in our current location, everyone at the supermarket knows us by sight. This same supermarket got a makeover about 6 months ago, with a new logo, new colors, new lighting design and a whole bunch of new products... in that they rearranged almost every aisle and caused massive frustration. But! You know what they also did? Hired a ton of extra people! And trained them to be friendly. Seriously! The people in the yellow shirts are the checkout people. The people in the purple shirts are the folks that stand at the endcaps in the high-traffic areas and Actually Say Hello to you when you go by. The people in the produce department - more purple shirts - are trained that when you go 2 feet from them they are to ask you if they can help you find anything. Everyone else is trained to look you in the eye, smile and say hello when you walk by. At first, everyone was nervous, including the customers! Oh my gosh, people are actually talking to me? What do I say? Social pressure! Ack! I'm supposed to look friendly or I'll get fired! So when my husband and I would go in, the employees were so relieved to see regulars that they would fairly bound over to us. And if I went in without my husband, it gave them a topic! "Where is your husband today?" Lastly, let me wrap up by saying there are several adults with developmental disabilities working in this store. They are always friendly - it was their peers who needed the training! Now that everyone is friendly, those people feel much more comfortable and welcome in their own workplace. The whole place has been amazingly transformed. It took a few months but it has made shopping so much more fun!

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  2. It sounds like someone there understood the value of making the customers feel like friends. I think all of us have to remember that lesson.

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