Embracing relationship building

Jul 07, 2024


By leaning into our self-awareness to understand diverse personalities, we can transform challenges into opportunities for growth and success.

Do you ever get pushback from your team members when you ask them to help with business development, client account management, or networking connection responsibilities? Or maybe it’s you who feels like you don’t want to sell, didn’t go to school for marketing or communications, and a myriad of other objections.

As an AEC industry executive, I have heard the rumblings of my colleagues and their peers regarding business development. However, I have also witnessed that when these technical experts discovered and owned their relationship-building styles, they engineered the foundation for a future that impacted their career trajectory and beyond.

For nearly a decade, I have worked in my consulting and training practice helping architects, engineers, and construction professionals at all levels identify, hone, and articulate their value to their clients, organizations, and, most of all, themselves.

The first step in this process, and the concept that can be the most challenging, is realizing that sales is all about relationship building. We build relationships in various ways. Our connection capabilities depend upon not only who we are but also on who the client is on the other side of the table.

But so many of us (myself included earlier in my career) believe that everyone communicates the same way that we do. Only when we throttle back do we realize that when our messages aren’t “landing,” the recipient may be different from us.

By leaning into our self-awareness to understand diverse personalities, we can transform challenges into opportunities for growth and success.

To do this, though, requires mindfulness, empathy, and a willingness to change. This becomes easier when we can visualize our audience.

In my work in the AEC sector, I have found that the most impactful way for participants to receive and apply these valuable insights is to provide them with practical tools for assessing their individual drivers and effectively reading the interpersonal cues of others.

For that reason, I created the Winning with Whiskers™ fable framework.

In a world filled with lots of interesting characters, what better way to demonstrate how we all have hardwiring that we use to create, cultivate, and deepen long-lasting relationships than a business fable with a giraffe, robot, entertaining sea lion, workhorse, and loyal, older dog?

Of note, each character (yes, even the robot) has whiskers.

By leveraging our awareness of which character(s) best resembles us, we are able to identify how we relate to others and where our blind spots for client interactions and communications may appear.

Winning with Whiskers™ is also a book, released in June 2024. It is a must-read for professionals across all industry sectors and levels eager to advance their careers, expand their internal and external business connections, and enhance their workplace environments. Learn more here. 

Dawn Landry is CEO and founder of Authentizity. Contact her at dlandry@authentizity.com.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.