How to Be Relational in Business


At last summer’s Inspire staff retreat, I cast a vision for my team to be more relational. Client relationships are what we do. We want our clients to know we truly care about not only their business but them as human beings.  

It’s a different kind of business approach, and one I’m grateful to foster. We lean in and meet our clients where they are. You’re probably thinking that I’ve always been this way in business.  

And you would be wrong. 

Steve Martin was Talking About Me 

Early in my career, I was quite the opposite—gruff with more than one burned bridge and ruined relationship behind me. I would call things as I saw them—and not always tactfully. I was, as Steve Martin put it in the first Father of the Bride movie, “from a long line of major overreactors.”  

It was a problem, but it was a blessing too because as Steve Martin continues in that scene, “With this passion comes great spirit and individuality.” Me again. I just needed to grow up a bit and learn how to use this passion for good. 

How to Win Friends and Influence People  

When I moved to a new agency, I was given a list and told I could pick and choose my clients. I found myself drawn to the clients that, like me, were a bit passionate and spirited. That’s the polite way of saying “hard.”  

Everyone at the agency made it a point to shy away from one particular account. Why? He was an overreactor. Well, what a coincidence! So was I! The very first thing I did upon meeting him? I asked him if I could give him a hug. Can you imagine? “Hi, I’m your new account manager. How about a hug?”  

Here’s the thing though. He welcomed it, and our business relationship grew from there. I had read somewhere, “Hug a client. Keep a client.” It worked. Before long, Mr. Overreactor was one of my favorites. 

Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.
– Dale Carnegie

It was a paradigm shift for me. My boss noticed and recommended the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He encouraged me to be more relational because that’s really who I was designed to be.  

I began to see my clients as the people they were and wanted to know them better and well. I wanted to help them and their businesses thrive. It reminded me of the teachings of Jesus and his greatest commandments. “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Love your neighbor. There’s no reason this can’t be a foundation of any business plan. 

What Relational Business Looks Like 

At Inspire Agency, we take the time to get to know our clients, and it begins from the moment we begin our working relationship. Naturally, we want to know all about their companies and media relations objectives, but we also want to know about them as individuals. Our intake forms are a bit different. 

 What’s their favorite color? What are their hobbies? What do they love to do? What are some of their important dates? Favorite movie and musical artist? Favorite food? Why do we want these details? It’s simple really. We can build better experiences into our time working with them.  

We also like our clients to complete a DISC personality profile so we better understand how to work with them, what makes them tick, and how to serve them to the highest level.  

It makes a difference. 

Recently, we began working with a new client out of Texas. This non-profit helps adoptive families post-adoption with trauma healing and healthy bonding. Their business is literally all about relationships.  

A few weeks ago, the CEO of the organization joined me in Charleston for a weekend of thought leadership. I wanted to make sure we made the most of our time together both professionally and relationally. Using the information I gleaned from our intake form as well as her DISC profile, I began our time together by going out for sushi, her favorite food. Since she loves the outdoors and hiking, we took a sunrise reflective walk on the beach and later kayaked and saw dolphins.

It was a great time getting to know her and her organization better, and we were quite productive during our work sessions. She commented later she had felt so loved. This is my goal and the goal of Inspire Agency. 

What could we learn about you and your business? Contact Inspire Agency and let us get to know you. 


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