Relationships are the heart of our industry. But often the lines between friendship and business blurs, creating an uncomfortable situation, maybe even an ethical dilemma.
When is it business and when is it casual? It can be a difficult path to walk. Our industry is very social and friendships bloom regardless. How do you keep those friendships fresh and professional at the same time?
Planners can assume from the onset that when a supplier comes calling it's for business, plain and simple. If it's other than that, it will be revealed soon enough. Suppliers can ask up front if there's business to be had and when.
For suppliers, it may take time. Do research to see how planners prefer to be approached and how purchasing gets done at their business.
"No" isn't necessarily "goodbye forever." In general, most planners will say if they don't have business to give, possibly saying when the next opportunity for new business may open up. Everyone in the industry realizes that the planner-supplier relationship is give and take, even if it sometimes gets hazy.
Those who don't bring business can influence it. Our industry networks are tight and one planner may sway another. Don't overlook the idea of planners influencing planners. It can be significant.
Honesty is the best policy. Respect, courtesy and communication, for both planner and supplier. But even when the lines begin to get blurry and we don't know when we're colleagues or just friends, remember that as long as we stand together we know our relationships will endure the test of time.
What have you observed in your business relationships?