Building and managing relationships strategically is at the core of a business startup.
When you have an idea for a new product or service, the first thing you do is build the relationships you need to nurture the idea. You find people you trust: mentors, partners, financiers, potential founding clients, gauging carefully whether they will have your mutual best interests in mind. Then, as you pitch the idea to person after person, you build a web of images in the imagination of the people you’re talking to.
You have to think very strategically about how you communicate your idea, so that it is easy for the person to whom you are explaining it to communicate it to their associates, and so on. After your company is rolling and you have your first set of clients, then expansion, financing and even valuation will depend an awful lot on your reputation. However, your reputation resides in your actions (note: remember that communication is action – every sentence you utter is a speech act!) and how they are perceived as an ensemble in the imaginations of others.
Think of how startups like Square, Twitter and Nest, among many others, went from idea to success story: effective relationships with the public, with consumers and with stakeholders created the trust necessary for success.
Building this web of relationships right is at the heart of strategic reputation management for startups. Getting this wrong will lead to personal discouragement, wary clients and financiers, and, perhaps, even a lower eventual valuation.
Moral of the story: strategic public relations management is at the heart of building a startup.