Rome was not built in a dayneither are relationships. It takes months, even years, to build a history of trust with someone. But making this effort, investing in building a true connection, results in a lasting resource. You can’t know what that resource will provide when you forge relationships with colleagues and other business contacts, but your efforts will have a positive impact. Sometimes the return can come in unexpected ways, but it is always an investment worth making.

I was reminded of this just a few months ago when I was in Las Vegas. While I was there, I reached out to someone I have known and worked with for more than 15 years who has an amazing role at one of the nation’s top companies, Zappos. I asked Kevin if he would be willing to show us around the company. You can schedule tours of Zappos in advance, but to have a friend who can answer a lot of specific questions and brainstorm ideas with you is something different altogether.

Kevin graciously invited us out to the Zappos headquarters, and we had a wonderful time getting deeper insights into a truly phenomenal company. Culture beats strategy every day, and nowhere is that more evident than at Zappos, and the chance to see of the inner workings of the organization was really enlightening. We were able to go inside the Zappos Fish Tank Nap Room, which is only one example of the truly innovative way Zappos treats its employees. We also saw firsthand that the Founder and CEO works at a desk amongst everyone else’s, another culture commitment demonstrated from the company top leadership. We saw individual departments designed around their own working style, and the indoor patio garden complete with squirrels was one workspace we won’t soon forget.

For our team of human resource professionals, this peek into a highly successful model, complete with an insider’s knowledge, was invaluable. Throughout our tour, Kevin and I were able to communicate and exchange ideas with the ease of years of friendship. I am so grateful to him, not only for this experience, but for the long-standing support he has given me and my team. We met somewhat randomly when he was looking for a job, but we have kept in touch, chronicled each other’s family evolutions and moves and worked on a variety of projects together over the years. It’s a pleasure to work with and for people who are reliable, dependable, and genuinely care about cultivating good relationships.

Friendship and collegiality are a two-way street, and I am glad to be able to be on the same street as Kevin. Even if Kevin and I can’t be in the same city year-round, we continue to support each other professionally with referrals and fresh ideas as we both evolve professionally. Without this connection, I never would have had the opportunity to learn so much about a phenomenal company, giving me information that I can use in working with other companies who are interested in developing a new approach to culture. This is just one example of the unexpected benefits and opportunities that can arise when you make a point to cultivate relationships in your career.

At Merito Group, our consulting services include working with companies on culture. We pride ourselves on having insights and information about the most novel and successful strategies across different industries, and we put that knowledge to work for our clients. Contact us to learn more about how we can partner with your business today.