Relationship Building: The Key to Success

By Liz Keener, MRAA Certification Manager

2 people seated a display table at an event
Author and MRAA Certification Manager Liz Keener and MRAA Membership Manager Sherri Cuvala have built many relationships within the marine industry by attending events.

Time after time we’ve all heard it from great business leaders, inside and outside the marine industry: Relationships are key to success.

Just this past week, at a dealer meeting, Robert Oswell of Roswell Marine shared stories about his Employee No. 1 Richard, his mentor Ralph Meloon and others who had impacted his career. I also watched this week as two long-time industry friends, caught up, sharing how they’ve known each other nearly 25 years.

Relationships are the backbone for any successful person, including dealers. Just a few weeks ago, Sherri Cuvala and I were at a dealer meeting, when a women new to the industry lamented that there just aren’t enough other women at the dealership management level to connect with in the industry. But there are, we told her, as we started rattling off names of some absolute rockstars in the dealership world.

Soon, I ran into one of those standout women, a C-level team member at a four-location dealership. Sherri and I asked her if we could please connect her with this other woman, who was looking for a peer to share with. She gladly said yes, and we were excited to introduce them over dinner that evening. Turns out, that was the best idea. The two women know many of the same people, and they even do their recreational boating in the same area! By the next day, they had exchanged numbers, were texting back and forth and were grateful for having made that connection.

Being willing to put yourself out there and connect with others is key to being a strong leader. These connections can give you an ear to listen to you, a brain to bounce ideas off of, a shoulder to cry on, an arm to lift you up when you’re down, a hand to high-five when you’re winning and maybe even a partner to do business with. I’ve seen deep-seated friendships blossom from a simple hello, and I’ve witnessed business deals made from a genuine connection.

Great leaders surround themselves with strong peers and those they can look up to for an example of success. They call on these connections for help, but also give as much as they take. They are authentic in their motives and committed to small, acquaintance relationships, as well as resilient, long-term relationships.

So this is my challenge to you: The next time you’re at an event, whether it’s Dealer Week, a dealer meeting, a Chamber of Commerce meeting, or something else, sit at a new table, introduce yourself to some new folks, or ask a friend to make an introduction. Sometimes a simple handshake can lead to a big connection; otherwise, you’ll at least learn something new about someone new.

Good luck in making those connections. And let me know if you need someone rooting you on, or a quick introduction to a peer.