Saturday, March 31, 2007

Coopetition, Brand & Transaction

Over the past several years of recruiting in PR I've built a pretty strong network with great people! Some of them we hired and others went to other firms or corporations. Some have come and some have gone. Others work on the next floor or a cube or two away from me. No matter where people in my network are though, whether they currently work with me or not, there are some that are like beacons in my network. They are rememberable, there is some level of attraction to want to reach out to them over an over again and when you do it's like you just left off your last conversation with them. I often ask myself why these people are different? What is about them that is different than the next person I just talked to. After all, I'm a recruiter, so I talk to 100's and 1000's of people in a given year.

I think there are few things that sets these people apart and this ultimately affects your company's brand. You may ask how I make this connection and I'll tell, but I do believe it's an underestimated impact on brand image. Those beacons in my network first and foremost are ultra authentic. It's like when you meet people when you are a kid and then lose contact with them for a while and then reconnect. Some of those people you reconnect with and it feels like you never lost touch. They are who they were. Others you feel like you don't know anymore. I don't know if this is authenticity or just that people can completely change. That being said there are those people that have so much soul and are so human and self aware that they are always who they are. These are people that I tend to trust implicitly which is the second factor. So the first is that they are authentic which leads to the second which is trust. Some of those beacons that I talked about work for competitors. That said I can still trust these people when I reconnect with them. I know our relationship is important to them and that they will protect this first. This leads me to my third factor which is that each encounter is building upon a relationship and not a transaction. If I'm working with a candidate and they decline joining our agency I don't see this at all affecting my relationship with that person. The relationship is separate from the transaction of hiring someone. Nobody in my network should ever feel that not doing something they don't want to do will affect the relationship and vice versa. If anything this should strengthen the relationship as long as each individual is being transparent with each other. This is the last factor. What they are saying they mean and what I'm describing about our environment is true, the good, the bad and the ugly. When all of these factors are in place the relationship moves beyond a business acquaintance and becomes real--you start to really know who that person is, you feel like yourself when you interact with them and this ultimately compels you to nurture those relationships--it feels good to do so.

So how does this affect brand. When people you connect with like this go to places you trust that they are choosing great places to work because they are great people. When they say they have picked a bad place their word means a lot to you. When those people you don't connect with go to places it makes you wonder if there are other people like them there. When you are building a company brand or employment brand the authenticity of your interactions with people can make or break this. The more authentic, the stronger the connections, the brighter those beacons become and more people are drawn to those beacons. When this happens the more your authentic brand message gets shared. When people do join your organization they will say everything you told me about this place was true and good or bad you will have protected your relationship--only goodness comes from this.

No matter what you do in life, be it sales, advertising, marketing, PR treat people like they are your brother or your sister and not a transaction. This isn't only important for the business you work for but for the authenticity of your entire life!

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