As far back as I can remember I have always been fascinated with successful people. I made it my mission to find out what it was about them that allowed them to achieve their goals while others tried and failed. Later in life, as I developed my business and entered into new and challenging areas of my career, I made a conscious effort to surround myself with suppliers, manufacturers, and colleagues who were considered outstanding leaders in their professions. By watching them closely and paying attention to how they presented themselves and how they ran their businesses I was able to make significant improvements to my own image and business. What I had not anticipated was that, because of the associations I had formed along the years with these professionals, I had achieved a certain credibility of my own within the industry and with people and potential clients I had never met. The mere fact that I was associated with leaders in my industry imparted to myself, and my business, a certain cache and reputation that would have been very difficult to build on my own. By choosing my suppliers, manufacturers, contractors and associations carefully I was able to capitalize on their reputation and success. When I made the decision to affiliate myself and my book, The Design Directory of Window Treatments, with a digital design software provider I took a close look at both companies that provided this service. It was clear that Minutes Matter Studio was the only choice for me. The quality and character of the people that you allow into your life and business speak volumes about you as a person and a professional. Just as you can be accused of "guilt by association" with shady or untrustworthy individuals you can build "success by association" with upstanding, reliable, industry professionals. Any person or company who is perceived as having an association with your business will leave a lasting impression with your clients. It is important to your success to manage those perceptions by discussing what your expectations are of your suppliers and contractors. For example, I provide my independent installers with booties which they wear over their shoes when entering a client's home. They lay down a clean white drop cloth in their assembly area and lay another drop cloth beneath ladders or scaffolding. They are aware that they should not take smoke breaks or eat on the job. They know that I expect them to behave in a professional manner when they are working for me because I have had a detailed conversation with them to lay out my rules. Your associates cannot meet your expectations unless you have clearly communicated to them what those expectations are! Conduct an analysis of your associations at the end of every year to see who is affecting your business in a positive way and who may be detracting from it negatively and take quick action to make the necessary adjustments to maintain the image you want to present to your clients. Building beneficial relationships is an ongoing process that takes planning and hard work, but the payoff is well worth the effort.
Get out there and build some positive associations today!
Jackie Von Tobel
The Designers Source for Inspiration and Education