Remote relationship building: Is Rishi right?

Happy Marketer Ltd

As businesses assess how best to move forward once again, remote working is a hot topic. Those who ‘pre-Covid’ didn’t support remote or flexible working may be considering a hybrid solution. Some will return immediately to the office, others may well ditch it completely.

I’m not here to argue the toss for or against remote working; there’ll be a right solution for your business and employees, and there are people better qualified.

What I have found fascinating this week however, was Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s encouragement of young people to go into the office because he feels video conferencing is ‘no substitute’ for building relationships.

From a marketing perspective I disagree.

I say this because in the last year, from the 90cm MDF desk squeezed in my kids’ playroom, between the Xbox and a play kitchen, I’ve started my business Happy Marketer Ltd, joined fabulous marketing communities, completed an MBA, created a professional network, and built some of the best relationships in my career to date.

I have a portfolio of clients, many of whom I have never met.

My clients have customers they have never met.

A phrase often used when it comes to relationship building, networking and career development is ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. And to a point, I agree. Whom you know can make a positive difference to your business, and your career, and help you achieve your goals.

Imagine for a moment you limit who you know to the bums on seats in your immediate vicinity. Where does that leave entrepreneurs, start-ups or new business founders who have the total of one? (Or worse, one plus three kids in my case.)

Even if you are not a small business, you are relying hugely on the organisation you work for, or those on the floor above or below to come up with the goods, which feels a little reactive does it not?

I am not saying face to face is not great, useful, or even necessary for many things; two heads are better than one in many cases. However, as a small business or start-up I am saying you have a HUGE range of tools and tactics available, which you’ll have experienced yourself as a consumer: email, social media, chatbots, newspapers, apps, websites, radio, tv, direct mail …

You can and should leverage these to build your relationships, whether with suppliers, contemporaries, customers or investors.

Marketing after all is simply activities, tools, and processes that generate, communicate and harvest values. It is a value exchange, a connection between the customer (a person) and individuals in organisations (another person), a relationship (see what I did there?).

To build a relationship with someone, they need three things from you:

  • To know about you.

Not what you ate for breakfast, but know you are there and what you can do for them.

  • To know if they like you.

You don’t have to collect BFFs, but they do need to be confident and comfortable they share enough values with you to do business.

  • To know whether they trust you.

They need to trust you are a) competent, and b) you’ll actually do what you say you will.

These three things; to know, like and trust, don’t need face to face contact, huge amounts of time, or being in the office.

So, while I would love a dedicated office sometimes, its purely for the peace and quiet it would bring, not for the relationship building - I’ve got that covered.

If you want to talk about how to grow your relationships effectively and efficiently without spending hours on the phone, face to face or on zoom, connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a direct message - or visit .