The Relationship edge in Business

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ThE Relationship edge in Business

by Jerry Acuff with Wally Wood

John Wiley & Sons © 2004, 237 pages, $24.95 (ISBN 0-471-47712-5).

How to Connect With Customers and Colleagues

Marketing consultant Jerry Acuff has worked for years helping clients learn how to build positive, long-lasting relationships. In The Relationship Edge in Business, Acuff presents the tools and advice that can make a difference when connecting with bosses, co-workers and customers. Offering a simple yet effective way to consciously and systematically build and maintain positive business relationships, Acuff provides real-life scenarios that describe the steps that can be taken on the road to developing strong personal bonds with the most important people in your business life.

In The Relationship Edge in Business, Acuff offers a specific, concrete relationship-building process, and makes many suggestions about how anyone can get the most out of it. Although his process is geared around business situations, he writes that it can also be use by those outside the business world.

The one starting point that those who use his process need to have in common, he writes, is that they must believe that relationships are important. Learning what interests other people is another key to success. He explains that by doing “the inexpensive, unexpected, and thoughtful acts that show your professionalism, integrity, caring, and knowledge, you will be successful.”

Building Relationships Is a Skill

If you nurture and leverage better relationships with your most important business contacts, including your customers, co-workers and managers, you will be more successful in your business life, Acuff writes. To build better business relationships, he explains, you must consciously, systematically and routinely work toward that goal.

To help others master the skills of developing superior relationships, Acuff offers a three-step process. His process involves the following:

1. Have the right mind-set. You have to think that relationships are valuable and believe that you are someone with whom other people would want to have a relationship. You must also think well of others and learn to think as much as you can from the other person’s point of view.

2. Ask the right questions. The goal of asking questions is to discover common ground. This could be mutual friends, interests or concerns. Acuff writes that if there is no obvious common ground and the other person is passionate about something that you know nothing about, your goal should be to learn from him or her.

3. Demonstrate your professionalism, integrity, caring and knowledge, and, when appropriate, do unexpected, inexpensive thoughtful acts based on what you’ve learned about the other person. This process can take weeks or even months of thought and care to apply.

In The Relationship Edge in Business, Acuff presents the stories of real people who succeeded in their jobs because of the relationships they created with those around them. Throughout, minor clients become giant customers, small favors become lifetime friendships, and customer loyalty becomes valued connections in a person’s life.

Even the Jerks

One key to relationship success that Acuff presents is “Think well of others (even the jerks).” He writes that, although this is not easy, relationships that are not what you want them to be can usually be traced to a failure to implement the three-step process completely. Making superficial judgments about someone based on sketchy information can hold you back, he points out. Asking the right questions in the right way for the right reasons can have better results.

To help others build stronger relationships, one of the pieces of advice that Acuff offers is to imagine that every person has the words “Make Me Feel Important” tattooed on his or her forehead. He explains that this tattoo is a command that, if heeded, will help us sell more, manage better and even be more effective parents. By fulfilling people’s deepest human desire — to be important — people will want to do things for us. Listening to others, talking about them, noticing them, learning something from them and doing something special for them helps them feel important. ~

Why We Like ThIs Book

The Relationship Edge in Business offers more than a process for making more sales and improving customer relationships, although it certainly can do both of these things. In addition, the practical advice Acuff presents throughout can be used to improve all the relationships in our lives and make us more effective people along the way. ~

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