This is a story about one of the Hartford Business Journal’s Best in Business Award Recipients. Pam Butterfield of Business Success Tools is that winner, and is the source of the admittedly strange title of this column – Relationship Bunnies.
Pam is not a sales person. She seldom, if ever, pitches her services in order to get a piece of business. Rather, Pam is that rare breed, the business person who builds their business through relationships and generosity.
Relationship bunnies are the 20+ individuals with whom Pam, over the years, has developed very solid and trusting relationships. These people trust Pam, and Pam trusts them. It’s a state not easily earned, but definitely one worth endeavoring to get.
These relationship bunnies are the predominant source of new business for Pam. One of the tenets underlying Pam’s approach to these relationships (and all relationships) is generosity. Pam is always thinking of the other person first, and acting accordingly.
That’s actually the reason she came up with the name relationship bunny. As she told me – “The reason I call it a relationship bunny process is that when you build relationships by leading with generosity, referrals propagate (just like bunnies).” Let me share some examples.
You would think that competitors would be the last source for new opportunities. Not the case with Pam. Like most business people, Pam has at least met many of her competitors. Usually cordial greetings (with wariness on not saying too much) are the norm when we run into them.
For Pam though, a few of her “competitors” are relationship bunnies. Pam focused on the person and getting to know them. Pam (and each competitor) discovered that they had a lot in common (makes sense considering their careers and passions align). They built trust with each other.
They counsel each other on opportunities where there is no overlap, and refer business to each other when the other party authentically can be the better solution. One relationship bunny competitor introduced Pam to a Professional Services client of hers’; that introduction has evolved into a long time client that continues to grow the volume of business they do with Pam.
Here’s another example. A regional bank was getting a new CEO. This new person, in the weeks leading up to them stepping into the job, was deluged with requests for meetings, a cup of coffee, a lunch. The people asking were all of the vendors and hopeful vendors. With a regime change these types of requests are usually the norm. The new CEO’s assistant tactfully declined almost all of the requests.
Pam had a relationship with the new CEO. Recognizing the enormous challenges this person faced in their new role, Pam thought about what would be most helpful for them. She sent this person a book she valued on how to most effectively handle transitions, particularly with the workforce.
By the middle of the following week the new CEO’s assistant called Pam. The CEO wanted a meeting. Long story short, the bank is still today a client of Pam’s.
Pam’s connections with her relationship bunnies are genuinely authentic and strong. When they need something, Pam tries to help. When Pam needs something, such as an introduction, she asks. Her asking is not an imposition. It’s merely one friend asking another to help. Friends are happy to help whenever they can.
Pam Butterfield is a Best in Business Award Recipient. Pam is a relationship maven. Pam understands and appreciates the power of generosity, given in an authentic and genuine manner. It’s all connected. It all works.