Building Authentic Relationships: The Key to Success in Business and Life

Grace Pfhol; Roe Stamps, founder of Summit Partners & Stamps Scholarship; Ryan Sequeria; Ángel Cabrera, President of Georgia Tech; & Sydney Ayers.

In today’s world, it seems like everything is driven by the need to make a profit. Businesses exist to sell their products or services, and people tend to build relationships for the same reason. They try to make friends with others because they hope these relationships will benefit them. But is that the right way to approach relationships?

As someone in the photography industry for years, I have learned that building authentic relationships is essential to success. I started my career in Hickory, NC, and after a few other jobs, moved to Atlanta in 1993 as a photographer for the Georgia Tech public relations department. I met Randy McDow, who became the Stamps Foundation’s, Executive Director. Randy and I became friends, and I enjoyed answering his photography questions and even critiquing his photos.

Zach Ismaio, Randy McDow, and Madelynn Lederer at the Stamps Scholars National Convention 2023.

What I didn’t know at the time was that our friendship would lead to bigger things. Randy later asked me to be the photographer for the bi-annual meeting of the Stamps Foundation scholars. I had no idea how much he appreciated my willingness to help a friend with their photography.

The lesson is that building authentic relationships is not about turning them into clients or looking for something in return. Instead, it’s about genuinely connecting with people and serving them however possible. Sometimes, these relationships may become clients, but that should never be the primary motivation.

Instead, discover your way of serving others. Find out what you can do to make someone’s life easier or better, and do it without expecting anything in return. That’s how you build lasting relationships that can lead to success and fulfillment in your personal and professional life.

Authenticity is the key to building meaningful relationships. People can tell when someone is trying to use them for personal gain, and it’s a major turn-off. So instead, focus on being genuinely interested in others and what they’re doing. Listen to them, support them, and celebrate their successes.

In conclusion, building authentic relationships should be a priority in every aspect of life, including business. Whether you’re a photographer, entrepreneur, or just a person looking to connect with others, focus on serving others and building meaningful connections. Remember, authenticity is the key to success in any relationship, so prioritize it.