The Best Business Relationships Are Personal

By David Nour

Drones are surveying building sites. Fleet managers are relying on GPS. With technology dramatically impacting the construction industry, what is the role of the human relationship? I submit that as technology removes the personal touch from how we interact with each other and how we accomplish our work, our business relationships become more important than ever. But let me go one step further and say: To get the most out of your business relationships, you need to make them personal.

Most of the world builds relationships first, from which they do business, not the other way around. But in the United States, it's very typical for executives to keep a distinct separation between the two spheres. It is driven into us early in our careers that we are somehow more objective if we keep our distance. I've even heard people say, “It's going to be hard for me to fire somebody if we are friends.” Our fundamental American need for efficiency tells us “focus on the business part. If and only if that part works, you may bring in a personal relationship component.” I believe these are flawed assumptions. I believe that my relationships with my clients have become stronger and more productive as a result of our becoming friends. Because we are friends, we accept a healthy dose of pushback, of candor, leading to mutual respect. I learned early on that “meals make memories.”

Every time I work closely with a client, we make time for a meal together. We laugh, we talk about great experiences, and we show our vulnerabilities. We build trust. Whether you are building relationships with your staff, your supply chain partners, or your clients, make time for a meal. Put the devices down and strike up a conversation. Past experience shows us that people prioritize work for people they know, like and trust. We all hold ourselves more accountable to the people who reward us for our contributions to their desired outcomes. I'm not referring to mere financial rewards, but the more motivating knowledge that we are truly invested in each other's success. To get the most out of your business relationships, invest in the personal side as much as you invest in the professional. That’s about as far from technology as you can get—and it’s a welcome reprieve from the demands of dealing with technology’s disruptive effects, day in and day out, up, down, and across the construction industry.


  1. As technology removes the personal touch from the construction industry, building business relationships become more important.
  1. Business relationships become stronger and more productive when they become personal as well.
  1. Socializing over a meal is a great way to deepen relationships—and take a break from the disruptive effects of technology.

David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® — the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is the author of nine books translated in eight languages, including the best selling "Relationship Economics - Revised" (Wiley), "ConnectAbility" (McGraw-Hill), "The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital" (Praeger), "Return on Impact" (ASAE), and the 2016 forthcoming "PULL: Co-Create Value by Listening Louder" (St. Martin's Press), an essential guide showing C-level leaders how to optimize relationships, create market gravity, and greatly increase revenue.Learn more at David may be reached at [email protected].

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