From the get-go, we’ve emphasized relationship building (over being transactional) concerning our business. I used to say, “we are too small to make a mistake, sweep it under the rug, and move on like nothing happened.” In the beginning, opportunities were difficult to come by, maybe even more so today.

We choose to build relationships with both the candidates and clients! And our goal is to improve them over time. We’ve developed pretty awesome relationships over our 20 years at smartdept. inc. It’s why we are still here! So, I thought I would share my top 5 reasons to build relationships in business.

… I never know if I should start a Top 5 list with number 1 or number 5? I’m going with the best, first! If you prefer to be surprised, feel free to start at the bottom and scroll up!

1 – IT FEELS GOOD! – At our core, we are creative. Having lived it, our goal is always to find someone their “dream job.” Very early in her staffing career, my partner in crime, Michelle, placed a graphic designer with a local minor league sports team located in Chicago’s Western Burbs.  Recruiters, like all professionals, celebrate wins. Her candidate got a new job, and the ball team was happy, too. Success! But a couple weeks later, Michelle received a handwritten letter from the designer’s wife explaining how happy her husband was in his new role. “This was his dream job,” she went on to explain. Remember when people wrote letters? I do! A simple, heartfelt thank you. I remember it 20 years later, and it wasn’t even to me.

2 – BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE TWICE THE FUN – In our second week of operation in the Chicago market, we got lucky with a suburban tech company. Who knew that our good fortune would continue with this hiring manager for nearly two decades? Sadly, our long-time partnership was forced to an end during the pandemic. But then a funny thing happened, the person who trusted us to provide him with a top-level talent for his department reached out to us for advice as a candidate. A new partnership was born! We worked with our long-time cohort to tighten up his resume, gave our opinion on his portfolio, and lent some advice on where to look for the next opportunity. In the end, our talented friend was snatched up quickly, and it didn’t have much to do with us. But, we were honored that a veteran creative, with 20 plus years of experience, entrusted us with the task of helping him to find his next opportunity, and wouldn’t you know it, a few weeks later, he called needing creative help. Another new partnership is born, and with any luck, this one lasts another 18 years!

3 – WE ARE IN IT FOR THE LONG HALL – It was January 2002, and we had been in Seattle for less than a month. Literally, we were still sweating over how to find our way back home at night from our office in Pioneer Square. Chicago’s streets are set up on a pretty basic grid, okay! Our newest candidate was looking for work as a print production artist, and she was openly frustrated (at the time) with the other resources in town. Her skill set was a perfect fit for a well-known Ad Agency located on the edge of downtown Seattle, so we jumped at the chance to make the connection. This smartdept. OC (original candidate) has worked with us on and off through the magic of forging a relationship since we began. Like many relationships, there were gaps in our communication and chunks of time when she was OTM (staffing lingo for off the market). This fall, nearly 19 years to the day that we first met, we placed her once again. This time with a well-known agency on the opposite side of town, and the opportunity went from freelance to a temp-to-hire in a matter of a few weeks. With any luck, we won’t have to help our friend for a while. But we both know that the next time she calls, we will help her again.

4 – FORGIVE AND FORGET – That’s the funny thing about really good relationships; they’re not always perfect. But if they are really worth having, you have to find a way to push through the tough times and make them good again. Such was the case with our Fortune 500 client from Chicago. We were really making an impact with their creative team when we were given a gut punch. They would soon be moving their staffing needs to a managed program, and long story short, we were not going to be included in their future plans. Still, we continued to stay in touch. We waited patiently for another opportunity, and two years later, they would call us. That’s right, they called us. They explained that their current relationships weren’t meeting expectations and asked us to participate in their next RFP. We obliged and re-earned a spot in their program, which we hold to this day. Fly the W Flag because that’s a win for relationship building. It’s also why you never give up if you believe a relationship is worth having.

5 – FRIENDS FOR LIFE – That’s what I think of when I think about our relationship with the creative leaders at the Benefits company that we are partnered with. Once again, an organization that we have helped for nearly the entirety of our existence. It would not be an exaggeration to say we would not be here today if not for their loyalty and trust in our abilities. And I’d like to think we’ve had an impact on them, too. Still, these relationships are truly rare, and we don’t ever take them for granted. The great part about working together, year after year, is that you get to know people and learn and grow along with them. Ultimately, the effort you put into growing a relationship can lead to becoming the best partner possible. In business and in life, tomorrow is promised to no one. But no matter what lies ahead, I’d be willing to bet we will always be in touch with these champions of our organization.

Honorable mention:

OH, THE STORIES WE COULD TELL – Did I ever tell you about the time I helped a candidate move out of her apartment so she wouldn’t have to reschedule an interview? And, there’s the time I drove a candidate to an interview because she had car trouble. Did you know that we’ve thrown pizza parties for candidates and clients to thank them for being a part of our lives? I could go on…

The moral of the story is that none of these unique memories would be possible without being open to the idea of making and growing relationships.

Are you ready to hire talent for your team? Are you ready to begin your job search? Get in touch with us today. We’re ready to build some new relationships!


By Eric Pairitz, smartdept. inc. Principal