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Creating Relationships with the Right People

By Sander Biehn | Dec 23, 2014

The holidays. Our annual two week long battery recharge. Fittingly, I read an Associated Press article yesterday reflecting on information overload.  Citing a Basex study, the article stated that almost $1 trillion per year is lost in worker productivity due to unnecessary email and interruptions at work. The largest figure I could find on-line was more like $600 million, but who’s counting. The point is that our own technology is significantly wasting our time.

I don’t think that any of us purposely let this happen. When communicating or researching, we always expect that any diversion from our critical work will lead us closer to a way of doing that work faster, better or smarter.  We cultivate and keep relationships with more and more people hoping to find solutions to our most difficult problems. We spread ourselves so thin with our digital quest for help that we distract ourselves from getting the job done in the first place.  Anyone who has ever managed a corporate project can relate. The search for the best way to get something done often stands in the way of getting it done at all.

The first reaction is to make it stop. Edicts like “Thou shalt not hit ‘reply all’ to an email” or instituting black-out periods for disturbing  key personnel, are two such knee-jerk responses. The only problem is sometimes you need to hit ‘reply all’ or contact someone when it is inconvenient for them in order to avoid larger problems for everyone. What is to be done?

At the heart of this American corporate conundrum, is our blind desire to communicate with everyone about everything. We all know that usually there is a small group of people who can help us, but we aren’t sure who they are. To counter-balance this uncertainty we communicate to everyone all the time.

Creating relationships with the right people is really what we are after.  But we are unsure how to achieve it. When we are wasting billions (if not  trillions) to create these key relationships, there is obviously room for improvement.   For me this past year, it has meant helping sales teams find ways to limit their own distractions and the distractions of their buyers.  I showed sales teams how to find customers who were truly interested in the benefits of their products and services without wasting time distracting those who were not. By leveraging social channels to surgically target the right people, I have seen tremendous acceleration in decision making. But it shouldn’t end there.

Providing better ways for anyone to understand your company, agency, city or department’s goals and benefits, streamlines the flow of information and makes it easier to get the results you desire. By using social platforms to target those who will benefit  from what you have,  not only are you cutting down on the clutter, you are also making yourself more effective.

My hope for 2014 is to help businesses and organizations work smarter with their customers and constituents. While using these techniques can also give a business a competitive edge today, the real prize for us all is in the efficiency created. Imagine what $500-1,000 billion in productivity could yield? A cleaner environment? A more caring community? A cure for disease? Minimally, it could lead to better rested employees; the kind who don’t need two weeks off at the end of each year to simply recharge.

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