Cultivating relationships has always been one of the most valued skills that a professional can possess. After all, we all do business with people that we like and trust. The cornerstone of that is relationship building.
Yet networking is also historically one of the skill sets that many professionals feel they struggle with the most. And especially after the pandemic prevented in-person gatherings and industry conferences, it’s never been more important to have a robust strategy for expanding your network and adopting new business development tactics. Garrett Boorojian, as the Chief Development Officer and Managing Partner at investment banking consultancy WaveCapital Partners, cut his teeth in the corporate world as a connector and relationship builder. It’s led to him becoming known as a thought leader on business development strategy.
In this article, he shares some of the advice for how he’s able to maintain a winning business development strategy.
What do you think it means to be a “connector?”
Garrett Boorojian: A connector is entrepreneurial by nature and is a bridge builder who brings two or more relationships together to either help solve a problem, resolve an issue or create a new business opportunity. If a person is truly a connector, then it’s most likely that he or she has a passion for originating what wouldn’t have existed without making the key connection (introduction) that requires two or more relationships. A great connector has a unique vision of how his or her introduction once established will make a substantial impact from everyone’s involvement.
At any given moment in the business world, start-ups, small-to-medium-sized businesses and large corporations need a connector, or connectors, to help bridge these entity types to new business opportunities. Over time, connectors are helping monetize these existing opportunities while facilitating even more opportunities. Connectors are always cultivating and maintaining relationships who are needing connectors. Ideally, a never-ending flow of business opportunities runs through connectors who are finding, developing and building all types of relationships. When relationships are built like bridges, the proverbial “civil engineers” are the connectors.
If these new and existing business opportunities bring significant value to any company, any industry and any situation throughout the economic cycle, the connectors are valued as much as the opportunities that continue to be originated through the connectors’ catalytic behaviors.
Connectors are catalysts responsible for helping their companies facilitate new and existing business opportunities in “SEE” fashion:
For example, a company’s team needs to SEE these business opportunities through to deals’ execution by making sure they’re properly received and worked on at the company. It takes a strategic, efficient, and effective approach by a company’s team of people when creating and selling a professional product or service to the company’s consumer base. To significantly make the consumers’ lives easier, connectors are able to help serve as sounding boards to their company’s team(s). Connectors should help consult with the team how to maintain quality control to keep consumers happy with the company’s array of products and services. As long as the SEE approach is ritualistically followed, a company will be successful and have the competitive edge over any other firm in its industry.
What are creative ways to add value to relationships that are built?
GB: It’s as simple as connectors asking their relationships how they are from time to time. Connectors add holistic value by showing they care about their relationships as people, their relationships’ thoughts about the business opportunities connectors connected them with, and asking what else their relationships need assistance with, because either relationships typically are mentors to their connectors, connectors are mentors to their relationships, or mutual mentorship is recurring.
Connectors see the value each relationship brings once the bridge is built. Connectors make their relationships aware of how much they (relationships) matter because there might be times when the relationships are the connectors and they think and want to be bridge builders to create new business opportunities. Solving a problem or resolving an issue could be a one-time occurrence, which doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a new business opportunity. Regardless, connectors’ involvements in these aspects are paramount as well.
What’s the biggest mistake that can derail relationship building in a BD strategy?
GB: Lack of communication is the biggest mistake. There should be consistently great rapport led by a connector who’s in the process of building relationships for the long duration. Relationship building evolves through the days, months and years of the economic cycle in the business world. Building bridges of strong and genuine relationships become the foundation of a healthy and an effective business development strategy.
The “Three Cs” methodology is the symbolic engine to the strategic building of relationships:
– Comparability (relatability)
Connectors have to be viewed as relatable, comfortable and credible by their relationships before connectors are able make the connections on their relationships’ behalves. But the connection once established doesn’t stop communication.
Once the bridge is built, it should never crumble. Referring back to an engine, similar to a required oil and filter change for a car when it reaches a certain mileage, connectors must periodically check-in with their relationships ensuring each created business opportunity is being maximized (team-driven) to the fullest potential for deal execution.
In life, it’s highly problematic to see a bridge crumble, or a car break down. In business, it would be analogous from the standpoints of connectors’ communication channels with their relationships failing and crumbling (breaking down) too, especially to the detriment of the flow of productivity in any company no matter the stage of the company’s growth and development with new or existing business opportunities.
The “development” world of the “business world” is synonymous with the “business development” world. The best of connectors in the business development world would make sure they develop (implement) communication procedures that work well internally at their companies. To streamline the dissemination of information, connectors would recognize early on when and where additional (value-add) support is needed to avoid any disruption of everyday progress at their companies. With open communication, all development is possible for a company and to endure through any part of the economic cycle.
How can you go the extra mile with cultivating genuine relationships with a business development strategy?
GB: Connectors are business leaders in any organization. They go the extra mile(s) when they take the time to establish genuine rapport with their relationships, first, before they look to become their bridge builders, second. Being a connector is not just connecting two or more relationships together. Rather it’s running parallel with these relationships and being their resources every step of the way toward deal execution. That’s when connectors know their relationships value them (connectors) just as much as connectors value their relationships. That’s when a connector’s business development strategy is a real, applicable, and highly-effective one.
Not all relationships are able to solve the same problems, resolve the same issues or lead to the same business opportunities. Business development is very specialized, and there are so many connectors in a plethora of niche spaces in the business world. However, the most talented business developers as connectors are able to engineer the right bridges to be built across many industries to create the most entrepreneurial and diverse of business opportunities.These skills, also innate God-given talents, take years for connectors to acquire through experiences to formulate and implement proven methodologies that will work every time for connectors. Connectors are the catalysts that make the Three Cs and SEE approaches possible. It’s vital to refer to these approaches as guiding principles to best navigate through the evolution of how to best build relationships for leadership-and-results-driven organizations.