When starting a department from scratch you often have limited resources, funds, and knowledge. Those limitations will likely be a reality for the foreseeable future until you prove the new product is viable. Even if you have a small team and a decent budget there will be knowledge gaps that you might not be unable to overcome. But I can promise you that someone within your organization or close to it has the answer or ability you need. The best part is that their help is probably free (or at most, the cost of decent lunch).
Help from the Inside
So you work for this big company with all this incredible talent and experience running around. The only problem is that nowhere on their job description does it say anything about helping you get your department up and running. So what do you do?
Most likely the people you need help from have needs as well. There’s a good chance that within your skill set you can service some of those needs. Buy them a cup of coffee and start a conversation. Find out what their stress points are and see if you can help them out. Plant the relationship seeds and continue to water them. If you do this enough times and with the right people, you will develop an unofficial support team. Try and create these high value relationships throughout the entire strata of the organization. Understand that developing a relationship with the guy who drives the forklift can prove to be just as valuable as the relationship with the Chief Operating Officer.
Help from the outside
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is how much help key vendors can provide. It was 2011, and I had just been hired by a couple of my old college buddies to help get a technical product line launched. These guys had been there a couple years at this point, and all three of us were civil engineers. This fact did not help one bit with all of the electrical components we had to work with. Lucky for us, my friends had established a relationship with a couple of guys who worked for our electronic component vendor. I honestly don’t know if those guys just took pity on us or actually saw potential, but they took us under their wings. They provided hours and hours of tech support, helping us learn those electrical systems. Today that product line is thriving, and I credit those vendor reps for much of our success.
The takeaway I hope to provide you with is that you never know where help might come from. All you can do is approach each and every interaction with the mindset that this could be a high value relationship. Be intentional about understanding what that person is trying to accomplish and how you might help them do that.
What are some things you do to foster high value relationships? Let me know in the comments below.