To the Networkers:

I remember attending a networking meeting a while back when someone walked up to me without any introduction and blindly asked me, “Who is your competition?”  I have to admit that I was caught off guard; what could I answer?  Was he a competitor, a potential client, just strangely curious? He did not know me at all but wanted to start with who I compete with.

One of my rules in business is never talk about the competition; so after taking a minute to process, I said: “Where I have a good relationship I don’t have any competition”. I explained that I’ve been in situations where I was the lowest bidder and not won the project, as well as the highest bidder and been successful. A step further… in some cases I have not been allowed to bid for work because I was an unknown, yet I’ve been given major projects without even bidding. The difference is having a trusted relationship. This is something that is earned over time and “developed”. It’s based on history and substantial investments.

This is a Business Development conversation; we are in the business of developing relationships. To quote my business partner, Guy Cleveland, “Introductions and relationships are our business, and the better the connections the better the quantity and quality of the deals”.