Relationships foster growth, drive new ideas and opportunities, and when well tended, stick around for as long as we want them to. But maintaining relationships is a tough task that some people are poor at managing. In business, some understand that the point is to mutually benefit one another; others merely see relationships as a means to move themselves forward. No one likes to feel used, however, so most will run away when they perceive that there are ulterior motives behind a friendship or partnership.

The film industry is one such world where relationships are crucial to success, but many simply do not have any clue how to foster them properly. Berry Meyerowitz, an active member of YPO, is a successful film executive who knows a great deal about maintaining strong bonds. After building and selling two film distribution companies, he is launching a new entertainment venture in 2017 that will call upon many of the relationships he has fostered over the past twenty years.

Meyerowitz shared with me the active approach he takes to maintaining and capitalizing on his most valuable relationships.

1. Be transparent and inclusive.

Your partners will appreciate it and come to rely on you for information and updates. "Whether it be with your team, investors, lenders, suppliers or customers, people want to be informed and included in the process, whatever that may be," Meyerowitz says. He recalls a perfect example: "Years ago a producer called to ask me to distribute his next film. I was thrilled but asked him why, since the previous film did not perform as we all had hoped. His answer was that we had communicated and reported to him as we said we would, and no one else had ever done this before. That's it. I was blown away."

2. Find shared interests.

It could be anything, from sports, music or food. Spending time together outside of the boardroom is a great opportunity to bond. Meyerowitz explains, "You have to decide how you want to be perceived. I am a serious guy who wants to work with great people and have lots of laughs. So when we can interject fun into the relationship it becomes a win-win-win for me, the business, and the other party."

3. When you engage a team, treat them well.

It continues to surprise Meyerowitz how poorly people are treated, especially in larger organizations. People want to feel ownership of their job, proud of their company's brand, and able to contribute to its culture. Giving more of yourself as the leader and the company as a hub for bringing people together will yield exponentially better results. You will also have lower turnover, increased bench strength, and the ability to compete at a much higher level. "Little things such as regular updates on financial and other strategic initiatives, regular town hall meetings and Q&A sessions, social and family events all bring the team closer together, which is great for business."

4. Talk more than business.

Others expect you to stick to business, so surprise them. Don't be obvious. Take time to try and actually get to know the person, suggests Meyerowitz. "It is interesting to see the difference in the way people respond to you when you are just you, without the clout and backing of a large company. At the end of the day, the way you treat people will determine how you will be perceived and respected for years to come."

5. Be reliable.

If you commit to do something, then do it. And keep a log along the way so you can inform your partners of the highs and lows for the next one. According to Meyerowitz, "It starts with the basics - being strategic, creative, prepared, disciplined, empathetic and much more."

6. Find your own uniqueness.

"I am so lucky to work in an industry that is exciting. Our products (films and television series) can make someone laugh and cry within minutes of each other. It has larger than life characters that people are interested in. These are all great features, but you still have to find your value add--and think globally." You may not share Meyerowitz's luck, but use the assets at your disposal to make an impact in someone's life.

7. Continue going above and beyond.

Meyerowitz offers another example: "As we were getting to know a growing customer, we planned an event for them that went well. When the next opportunity arose and we outdid ourselves, they were so appreciative. Then we heard they were talking about what we were going to do next. Building the excitement and anticipation increased our brand in their eyes and also brought our team together to be creative and ambitious to wow an important customer--who became a good friend."

Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.

Published on: Dec 9, 2016
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