Maybe we are predisposed to look for shortcuts. But when it comes to the relationships at the heart of business development, promises of silver bullets and quick fixes are fools gold.

When my childhood best friend and I would take off on our bikes early on Saturday morning, we loved spotting a shortcut…even when it ended up going nowhere. Even when the path we thought might save time ended up making us late for dinner, it was an adventure…right up to when we had to explain ourselves to mom and dad.

The Woods May Be Lovely. They Are Also Dark & Deep

The discovery of an uncharted path has enormous allure. It is a quest to reach the other side more quickly. To complete the project earlier. To beat the system. Symbolic — maybe symptomatic of the pursuit of instant gratification.

For kids it is, for the most part, harmless. Perhaps even productive.

When it comes to building business development relationships, real shortcuts do not exist. Promises of 5-easy-steps-to-rewarding-relationships, or 3-keys-to-increased-revenue in-3-months should be recognized for what they are — sign posts for wasted time and unrealistic expectations.

For professional service providers experiencing business development difficulties, the most common issue is the deficiency of a robust and vibrant network of professional relationships.

And this can’t be fixed in six days or even six months.

Productive relationships — professional AND personal — require three things that are at odds with the quest for a shortcut:

  1. Unwavering focus. Each time a distraction captures our attention, we’ve taken a path that will end up making us late to the party.
  2. On-going dialogue. Shortcuts to relationship inevitably short-circuit the conversations that weave the fabric from which rewarding relationships are constructed.
  3. Time. Rewarding relationships simply do not materialize overnight. We know this, of course, and we discussed it here; yet the temptation to believe otherwise is strong. But advisors are not instantly trusted. Commitment is not demonstrated in three quick-fix-steps.

To be sure, a higher Google ranking, spot-on marketing, a solid strategy, a top-flight team, killer events and honed communication skills are important parts of a business development effort. All can open doors and leverage resources.

But solid relationships trump everything.

For this there are no shortcuts. But with the right building blocks (start with the three ideas above), business development can become a rewarding adventure.