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NEWS | June 14, 2017

A Formula for Success: building relationships and your reputation

By Col. Erik C. Coyne 11th Wing Staff Judge Advocate

Relationships and your reputation apply to virtually everything you do and every interaction you have. Your reputation and the relationships you cultivate, make life easier, not harder and can save you precious time, especially when time becomes critical.

Ever had to call customer service and just get transferred around? What if you knew someone in that organization? That relationship could solve things quickly.

So, how do we succeed in solving crises or cutting through the daily challenges we face? By adding your reputation together with your relationships.

Your reputation is all about you and how others view you. Ask yourself, “what qualities or skills do I admire in others?” Do you study your craft, know your rules and regulations? Are you the type of person that helps others or do you look out for yourself? Are you organized? Approachable? Do you know your own limits or when to ask for help? Do you help others when they ask? If you are senior in your organization, are you creating future leaders? Do you take responsibility for your failures or pass the buck?

Your relationships are also about you, because only you can create and develop them. Ask yourself, “how could this person or their organization benefit from collaborating with me or mine?” Don’t ask yourself, “what can I get out of them?” That’s the wrong approach and eventually people see through you. The next time you are working on a project, why not pick up the phone, or better yet, go meet the person you are working with. Interact with the people around you and build relationships.

Recently, I was reminded of the importance of reputations and relationships when an Air Force jet crashed near our base. In the months leading up to the accident, our new commander made developing relationships with the local community a priority for our command. He not only met regularly with local leaders but encouraged the members of his command to do the same. I joined the local bar association and met with prosecutors to explain Air Force processes and ensure open lines of communication. Other attorneys in our office have met with local attorneys to develop a network to aid in the event one of our Airmen has a legal assistance problem. Other commanders and leaders across the base were doing the same with their counterparts.

Needless to say, those relationships came in handy when we needed them the most.

Our commander called local leaders and our first responders were speaking with their counterparts on a first name basis. One 11th Wing first responder even said, “a local first responder called me on my cell on the way over, here’s the situation…”

Local and base personnel worked seamlessly to bring the situation under control and continued to do so in addressing community concerns.

Our reputation and the relationships we developed led our command to success. You can do the same. It can’t be done during a crisis. It needs to be done every day. I challenge you to develop into the best you can be and to develop your relationships. It makes a difference when it matters the most, and you never know, you could make a few friends along the way.