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Build Business 2018: Confident Relationship Building

SMPS Boston is proud to offer a scholarship to attend Build Business, the SMPS National Conference. Kathy Hunt was a recipient of this year’s SMPS Boston Build Business Scholarship, which covers the full cost of registration.

In the past six months I have been transitioning from a traditional marketing coordinator role to a hybrid marketing/business development position with a focus on one sector. This was my first national SMPS conference, and I approached it from a more outwardly focused perspective than internal production person. The people I network with these days – or so I would have myself believe – are more intimidating. They are commercial brokers and developers with whom I’ve never worked or socialized. Because of this, I signed up for all the BD seminars focused on relationship building, to uncover secrets that would build my confidence. What I learned, however, was that outward or inward, learning to build trusting relationships is the same process and holds the same value with any person. I had lost a little confidence by being so focused on these mysterious groups of people I feel I have less in common with. I was reminded by being among so many fellow marketers that I was already good at this. I had formed trusted connections with my own Sasaki marketers, directors, and principals for two years – that’s what got me to my new position! Not only do I need to continue to nurture those relationships within my own firm, but the same relationship development principles can be used with the new groups of people I am seeking out. Some principles that stood out to me at the conference were ones that I merely needed to be reminded of, but made all the difference within the context of this new environment.

  • You cannot jump forward when it comes to developing a good connection with another person. I can feel pressure to hasten a relationship to bring in some leads, but my gut tells me that I will get better information by taking a little more time and having a few more meetings with someone first. This concept was the same for me when changing my marketing position. While I was feeling restless in my former role, I understood that I still had not been in it long enough to gain the backing of my leaders and create the role I was planning for. In general, across positions at five companies, it holds true that you need one year to make a good impression, and another to make relationships solid.

Some San Diego locals networking at Build Business 

  • Business Development is about relationships and gaining business opportunities, so I have to get to know everyone in town, right? It is so overwhelming to think this way and it’s difficult to meet on a regular basis with so many people. Keeping your circle smaller is OK. In my first year I jumped in to joining organizations and committees. While I genuinely enjoy this, my “joining” spiraled a bit and I became a part of groups I knew little about without strategizing the reasons for joining. I don’t regret experimenting, but I learned there is a point where you may back out of groups you are not truly participating in, making the ones you choose to stay in more meaningful.
  • Truly engage with people. If you are armed with the right questions, your conversations will be more seamless and feel easier. Being in a room of people you don’t know is daunting to everyone, even for a person who has practiced it for years. When you are the one asking questions and listening to the answers, you’re not only taking pressure off yourself, your engagement is felt by all in the group. You don’t always have to talk business. I had a sinus infection while on my San Diego adventure. It certainly added to my nervousness at being with new people, and generally not wanting to spend long stretches of time in one place. But when I finally shed my New Englander shield during the intensive BD workshop day, the people I met in that room were my favorite friendly faces the rest of the week.

Keep an eye out for announcements on how to apply for a scholarship to next year’s Build Business conference here.


Kathy Hunt is a Business Development and Marketing Associate at Sasaki, focusing on commercial architecture and interiors. She has worked in the Boston design industry for over a decade and has been an SMPS member since 2016. If you wish to join Kathy in her networking adventures, you may contact her at

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