>Who knows what this economy is going to do. One day you turn on the news and everything is going down the tubes, the next day you hear things have flattened out, then things are picking up, and just when you are feeling a little perky the news reports the market takes a dive. It’s enough to make you crazy. The economy has more ups and downs these days, more change and drama then all the soap operas and reality shows put together.

 If you focus your energy on the economy and plan your strategy based around what the news is saying – you are sure to lose. So what do you do? What is the best way to survive this changing economy, and where should you put your time and your energy?

Yep – you guessed it – on building, developing and enhancing relationships. If you hit hard times, it is going to be the people you know, the relationships you’ve built and the reputation you have that are going to pull you through. Even if you never even feel a blip during these changing times, relationships are still the best and most secure place you can invest your time and your money if you want to see a high rate of return on investment.

Why? Trust, value and quality have become the new return on investment. Whether it is customers, employers, or friends and neighbors investing in people is sure to produce a win! Think about it:

Customers – who are they doing business with? Customers have so many choices. They  can buy local, buy regional, buy national and global. The Internet has made buying things in India as easy (and sometimes easier) then buying things downtown. Consumers are overwhelmed with choices and ways to buy goods and services. They need ideas and input on how to narrow their options. Relationships are the answer. Customers are not nearly as price sensitive as they used to be, because the abundance of choice has made the  guarantee of consistency, quality and a relationship far more valuable.

Investing in and building relationships with your customers right now increases loyalty, retention and referrals. All of which ensure your business grows, your profits increase, and the threat of a shifting economy remains something you only read about.

Careers – need a job, want to keep your job, want to be the one person in your company whose salary actually increases during challenging economic times? Then build relationships. When this economy first started to shift, I would get calls weekly, people wanting to know if I could help a friend or a family member find a job. My first question was always tell me about their network, tell me who they know? All too often that answer and list were pretty slim.

Again, employers are inundated with resumes and requests for employment. For every job posted their must be hundreds of applicants if not at times thousands. If you want to be interviewed, if you want to be hired, then you better come highly recommended by someone you know that knows the person interviewing you for the job. A long list of well-connected people will bring much more value in the job hunt, then the right education, skill set or job experience. When the pile of resumes is a mile high, it is going to be the relationship  not the experience that gets you to the top.

Want to keep your job or get promoted. Then build relationships. Relationships have value, companies know this and they know they need employees who can build relationships  if the company is going to grow. You can always find people who have the skills to do the job, but those that can do the job and build the relationships are few and far between. Relationship builders can not only bring in new business and expand existing relationships, but they understand the power of building internal relationships to get the job executed quickly and efficiently. Saving the company time and money.

Friends and Neighbors – where are you going to turn if you need help? Shifting economies and challenging times, make the importance of knowing and being able to count on people who can help  vital to success. From the little things like making you laugh after a really bad week,  to  picking your kids up from school if you’re running late. To the big stuff, like letting you car pool if your car breaks down or mowing your grass if you break your leg. 

Tough times can be so much easier if you know you have people you can count on to help you and support you, and good times can be so much more rewarding when you have people to share them with. The key to surviving and thriving in any economy is relationships. If you want to beat this economy, thrive during any economic conditions, then invest in the power of relationships! You’ll always come out a winner!