Keys to Relationship Building with Tania Balassanian

Whether it’s potential clients or candidates, building relationships is the name of the game in the recruiting industry. Building trust with the people you’re hoping to work with is extremely important, but creating valuable business connections with a Passion for People mindset starts with treating everyone with respect and empathy, not just the people you hope to do business with. We were joined by one of Brunel’s Business Development Managers, Tania Balassanian, to discuss relationship building.

Meet Tania Balassanian

Tania Balassanian joined Brunel in October as a part of our Life Sciences team in Canada. She is a Business Development Manager for the Medical Device industry and she has 10 years of experience in the recruiting industry. Tania is of Armenian and Lebanese descent but was born and raised in Montreal, where she is currently based. Tania, who is fluent in Armenian, French, and English, has a degree in Human Relations from Concordia University. She’s always valued the people-focused side of sales and the recruiting industry so once she realized she could make that into a successful career that became her passion.

She said of the recruiting industry, “I was getting contract jobs through a recruiting agency and I thought this is a lot of fun! I felt so much gratitude every time a recruiter would help me find a job. I decided I want to bring that joy to people. I want to be the reason that somebody is happy like that, because I felt that happiness. Then, by luck I found a recruiting job and the rest is history. It fit me so perfectly at the time.”

Tania has quickly made a name for herself within the company and has even won an award from her peers for embodying our Passion For People mantra. She joined the blog to talk about the importance of building relationships as a recruiter and offered tips for making connections with new people in the industry.

 
Tania, her husband, and 2 children.

As a business development manager and as a recruiter, relationship building is a huge part of your role and you take those aspects to heart. Why is relationship building so important to you?

Early in my career I was so excited when recruiters helped me find a job. Even though they were just little contracts, I just remember that joy, that pure excitement that I had because of those recruiters. I decided “I could do that!” and then I took a job as a recruiter and it just so happened I was involved in making a few placements early on and those candidates had so much gratitude. I ended up riding that wave, feeding off of that excitement from other people. Sometimes, people are very content and comfortable in their jobs and they don’t realize there are better opportunities available to them.

Being able to build those relationships and open people’s eyes like that and influence them positively is just so rewarding.

Here at Brunel, we have a Passion for People and it’s one of our core values. You made an impact in that regard during your first couple weeks with the company and you won the Passion for People award in your Brunel Academy group. How would you define Passion for People?

That’s a loaded question, but just to simplify it, I think as recruiters a lot of us get a very bad reputation, and I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ll call a candidate or potential client and they’ll say “no, I don’t want to work with a recruiter. Recruiters just take your time, ask a lot of questions and then they never call you back again.” I actually take that on myself. I will follow up and just treat everyone with respect and try to reply to every message, even if I can’t help them. 

It takes 30 seconds to reply sometimes…but I have to take action on something because somebody actually took their time to put a little bit of hope in me. I can’t just ignore that. It’s the golden rule; I don’t know it in English but I know it in French.

“Ne fais pas aux autres ce que tu ne voudrais pas qu'on te fasse.”

That’s what I try to live by.

Treat others the way you want to be treated, basically.

Yes! Exactly! It really does boil down as simple as that, right? Just treat people with respect. Be kind. Especially in these times. We’re all living through such a virtual world and unprecedented times. Being extra kind can make the whole difference in somebody’s day.

So during the Brunel Academy when you won the award, what do you think made your Passion for People stand out to your peers?

I was actually surprised; I didn’t feel like I was doing anything different. I was very active in the trainings, speaking up, asking questions and giving my input, etc. But I love meeting people. I think I really, by luck, found the perfect job for me because I’m really value relationships. I love meeting people, I love hearing about them. I had a psychology class in university and it was the first time I heard that Maya Angelou statement about how people will forget what you say but they’ll remember how you made them feel.

That’s one of my favorite quotes too.

Exactly! I love that. The quote speaks to me on a different level. So even after the trainings, I just made it a point to reach out to people I found relatable. We had a chat group for the Academy and, in the beginning, I was saying “hey guys, good morning!”; just greeting everyone. And I would make it a point to talk to some of them individually and make real friendships.

We’re all in our own space and we want to all feel a part of the team, and I felt that was important for my own wellness as well considering we’re all working from home. People usually receive that positively and I guess that’s why they gave me the award!

Cause you’re a winner! This is what you do!

Haha, I guess so. Thank you.

The pandemic and working from home has made professional relationship building much more casual.

So you mentioned that you found the perfect job because you love building relationships like that. How do you align your Passion for People with your role/your goals as a salesperson?

Obviously my job is very sales driven, but I wouldn’t consider myself a salesperson. I remember when I was on the recruitment side in my previous role, I had a friend in medical sales and I told them “oh no! I can’t do sales!” He said “what are you talking about? Have you ever been able to influence somebody? Convince them of anything? Maybe made them choose something else on the menu that you want at a restaurant?” He explained if you can do that, then I knew how to sell. That hit me because my idea of sales was pushing a product on people and saying “You need to buy this! LET’S NEGOTIATE!”. Because I’m a very relationship-oriented person, I take a slower approach. I like to take a “let’s build trust” approach, you know?

Every time I have a call with a potential client I say “hey, I don’t want your business right now. I want to get to know you. I want to know how you do things. If someday, whether it’s next month or next year or 10 years from now, we end up collaborating together then that’s great. But for now I want you to tell me about you.” Most people love to talk about themselves and I love to hear their stories, their experiences, their needs.

That’s very true.

And I think during the pandemic that has helped me a lot. Obviously a lot of aspects of the work slowed down in recruitment, but as far as the relationship building aspect, I think it kind of catapulted me and helped me be more confident in building relationships with clients and made me more confident targeting clients that I generally would have been almost intimidated by because I thought, hey listen, we’re all home suddenly, this pandemic has leveled the playing field completely. We’re all in this miserable mess together.

Instead of saying “hey, how’s business?”, I managed to build more relationships with clients where suddenly I know the name of their dog and I know that their son plays hockey. I know that their daughter is going through a driving test and they failed the first time but have another one soon, those kinds of things. It made everyone more relatable.

You’re 100% right about that. I've found that it’s made it a lot easier for me to do interviews like this as well because when people are in big fancy offices in their dress clothes they’re a little more guarded with their answers but when they’re at home, sitting really cozy trying to find a quiet space in their house they’re much more open.

Exactly. I’m sitting in my daughter’s room right now with a bunch of Barbies next to me. That just made me more confident, knowing that we’re all just people.

What have you found to be the best way for you to reach out to people and build those relationships?

For me, though other people might not agree, but I hate cold calling. I feel like a telemarketer and a little cheap. I’m very much into warming people up before a call. Sending a message on LinkedIn or an email just introducing myself is a nice first step. Something very short and sweet.

“This is what I do. Don’t want your business, just want to talk to you and get to know you. I love meeting professionals in the industry, do you have 10 minutes?”

If they answer the message or email then great, we’ll set that up. But if they don’t answer, that’s also ok because then I’ll call them and I’ll feel better knowing they’ve at least seen my name before.

Obviously, you’ve been very successful with that strategy so far.

Like I said, I take a lot of pride in speaking to people even if I can’t help them. I’ll refer you to somebody else and I think that I’ve gained people’s trust by giving them my trust and by being honest. Eventually, people end up recommending me because I’m not the random recruiter who won’t return your call take pride in what I do.

Do you have any other advice for recruiters or sales managers about relationship development?

I think honestly the main thing is respect people; even if you feel like they’re not a good fit for the job you’re trying to fill. At least send a quick thank you and tell them that you received their message and you’ll think of them if you find something else. Don’t just ignore people because I’m sure you don’t like to be ignored. Value everyone.

Especially during these times, you have no idea what people are going through and even that one reply might be worth everything to them.

I definitely agree with you there. When I was looking for a job, applying for every single thing, I used to hate when recruiters just never got back to me. People who tell you they’ll call you Monday and then suddenly it’s Friday and you’re still just waiting in limbo.

Yes, exactly. It makes you feel cheap, right? It almost makes you feel used.

I personally hadn’t had any of those experiences, but someone I know was looking for a job for a while and finally landed on a good recruiter and found one, but the number of times that this person had reached out to other recruiters and there was no replying…he just kept asking “am I wasting my time?” Don’t let your candidates feel that way.

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De'Vion Hinton
Digital Specialist - The Americas