The importance of maintaining and growing long-term business relationships is paramount to the work of David Brocklehurst OAM. David is General Manager of ASX Refinitiv Charity Foundation, which has its headquarters in Sydney, Australia. Since 1999, ASX Refinitiv Charity Foundation has raised over US$23 million (A$30 million) for more than 170 charities through its signature events and auctions. It stages the biggest charity golf day in Australia, a massive charity auction, a regatta and car raffle annually.
How to start forming a business relationship
“Identity the right person, the decision-taker. Obviously look at titles and very often it is the CEO,” David shares. “It is usual to get to the CEO through the personal assistant, and you need to have a plan – explain what you want to do and why.”
David says he always makes a phone call first, then follows up with an email. Once contact is established, he knows he has to make the relationship grow.
“It is very important to build loyalty, trust and friendship,” he says. “Normally, a CEO is very willing to extend an introduction to their contacts and, in turn, I introduce existing contacts that I believe will interest him/her.”
Major multinational companies often appoint people from outside the country. “If they have no network on the ground, seek an introduction, offer to take them out to lunch and then introduce them to your own network,” David adds.
Build good communication, build loyalty
Once contact has been established, you must be in regular contact without becoming a pest, David shares. It is important to find out about the person and to track the business. Know the person’s interests, inside and outside their business.
“Timing is important. If the business secures a new contract, send a note of congratulations. If something good happens to the contact’s sporting team, let them know. You are building that relationship. Equally, if the company lays off workers, let the contact know that you heard another contact had jobs available. Offer an introduction.
“Show you care about the relationship; provide exceptional service, go that extra mile. You are there for him/her. Establishing that two-way conversation is crucial. You have put them at ease, you are providing services for them too.
“It is very important to be able to respond quickly if the business contact calls, even if you just provide holding advice. If you have a million other things to do, make sure you respond in some way. Build a network and involve your clients in that network.”
Maintaining the relationship
Once a business relationship has been established, it is vital to maintain it and grow it further.
“It is very important not to hit and run as it is so much more difficult to win back a client,” David says.
“You know the contact loves sailing and has professed he has always wanted to meet someone in particular. If you have established the contacts to make that happen, then go out of your way to make it happen.
“If your contact changes jobs, ensure you maintain that relationship as it is likely the client’s move opens up new relationships for your company. Equally, identify business opportunities and contacts that would be useful to the client and pass them on.”
Working with COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has hit many businesses severely and, in turn, it has hit ASX Refinitiv Charity Foundation.
“I have made an absolute point of sending complimentary invitations to events to businesses hard hit,” David shares. “Those businesses have supported us for years and it is my way of saying ‘thank you’. You should look after your relationships.
ASX Refinitiv Charity Foundation’s annual golf day, dinner and charity auction will be at Pennant Hills Golf Club, Sydney, on 19 February. It will attract less than 50 per cent of normal client numbers due to COVID-19 and there will be a virtual auction. To help with the fundraising, the Foundation organised a virtual Trading Day for charity last November and raised about US$426,000 (A$561,000) to add to the funds they hope to raise from the golf and dinner.