The importance of business relationships cannot be overemphasized. In fact, “who you know is more important than what you know” in business. A lot more important.
That simple and innocent-looking advice is worth a million dollars. In fact, it should be written with fire across the sky or, better yet, be carved on your office wall with pure gold.
Having the right connections is essential to your success in the business world, especially if you plan to be extremely successful.
Robert Kiyosaki was right when he said, “Your network determines your net worth!”
Building a strong relationship is easy but, at the same time, can be difficult. So here are some practical, actionable tips for building long lasting business relationships.
1. Maintain Strong Business Relationship By Keeping In Touch
It sounds basic, but we’re starting to forget how to do it. You are going to have to maintain your relationships.
If you don’t talk to someone for months, you’ll fall off their radar, or they may not immediately jump at the chance to help you when you finally reach out to them and ask.
To make relationship-building easier, keep brief records of who you have networked with and check in on them regularly.
If they’re online contacts on a social media network, keep your conversations going. If they’re colleagues or people with whom you’ve swapped business cards, send an email or make a call every month or so. Check-in and say ‘hello.’
If you tend to forget to make – or worse, return calls or emails – use a task management system or calendar to remind you to call or write.
2. Successful Business Relationships Are Based On Trust
Never take advantage of people. Never. Don’t even let them think that you’d do so.
It’s the quickest way to ruin a good relationship and build a bad reputation that can harm other relationships too.
The key to building trust is being honest.
When you are willing to forego your own interests to help someone else, they know they can rely on you and trust you. Do the right things and be dependable, and you’ll see your relationships grow stronger.
3. Develop Relationships Through Networking
Networking is the key to building relationships, and you have many options available to you.
You can attend mixers or networking events to meet new contacts. However, networking doesn’t have to be this formal. You can strike up a friendly conversation with someone at the gym or in the grocery store check-out line.
As long as you are engaging with other people, you are networking.
You never know when you’ll meet new customers or grow relationships with other professionals.
Even if you aren’t much of a people person, you can put yourself out there a little bit so that you can make some great contacts.
You don’t have to be the life of the party. People would rather you just be yourself.
If you’re not comfortable putting yourself out there on Facebook, take a look at your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it’s up to date, and test the waters to see if you can make any new contacts online.
4. Build Better Business Relationships By Showing An Interest In Others
Showing interest in others is an early step to gaining respect and building a business relationship.
One bad attitude to avoid in a relationship is being pretentious. Pretentious people don’t get very far because they always talk about themselves. Listen to what people have to say and show sincere interest in them.
News flash: in other people’s world, you aren’t the most important person. Accept that. Embrace it. Use it to your advantage.
Ask them questions about their job, kids, and challenges to build a rapport.
Another essential thing to note here is that you need to pay attention to what people brought up in discussions to reference it in future discussions. Everyone is impressed when someone shows they’ve taken the time to remember their stories. It shows that you actually care.
If you remember that their dog Sparky wasn’t doing well, they’ll be glad that you remembered a few months down the road.
5. Build Trust By Working Hard
This is one of the proven strategies to market yourself. People no longer buy knowledge; they buy results. People need you to prove yourself worthy before they invest in you.
Believe me – nobody will have your back or put in a good word for you if they know you will not deliver the result.
This is also true when it comes to customer retention. If you want potential customers and existing customers to do business with you, you need to build a relationship with them by being trustworthy and providing the best customer service you can. Not only does this improve your customer satisfaction, but it will also grow your business and make it more profitable.
6. Use Your Network to Build New Relationships
Chances are, many of your co-workers, professional partnerships, other small business owners, and even your friends and family members could help each other out – if only they were connected.
When you feel an introduction would be beneficial and both parties have agreed, introduce two of your connections to each other and help them build relationships.
Be a business match-maker. Make those referrals. These people will then move mountains for you because they trust you and see that you care about them.
7. Send A Letter
We live in a digital world. Everything is electronic now. Therefore, you can get someone’s full attention by mailing a handwritten note to them.
If you just finished reading a good book that provides information about an issue you’ve discussed with someone in your network, mail it to the person with a note expressing why you’re sending it.
Think about how someone reaching out to you by mail would impact you.
8. Spend Time With Each Other & Meet In Person
The majority of our connections are virtual. But you can always take your business relationship to another level by meeting in person.
You can meet people for lunch or coffee and share business advice and tactics. If you travel regularly, try to nurture your work relationships by meeting with a colleague whenever you visit their city.
If that’s not possible, you can use Skype or Zoom to meet “face-to-face” and take your relationship to a new level.
9. Send Them Interesting Links
If you come across a link that one of your contacts might appreciate, send it and give them a short explanation of why you thought the link would be useful.
You can also personalize this by letting them know how the link made you remember them.
A point of warning here: do not send too many links to the same person, though. Remember, you want to maintain a positive relationship. There is a difference between being helpful and being annoying.
10. Congratulate Them
If you learned that one of your connections was recently promoted at work or changed professions, celebrate with them. Send a congratulatory note and ask them questions about the change.
This is also a great opportunity to re-establish a relationship that has been lost.
Connect with them to catch up on other matters and provide an update on your own status.
11. Do Not Overdo It
This sounds like a caution. You need to give the people in your network space and room. They are not nurturing a relationship with you alone. So, let them breathe and grow on other things.
No one likes to be smothered. Gauge their comfort level and go from there.
If there is only one thing that determines how far you go in life, it’s your ability to build the right network and maintain a good business relationship. The tips mentioned above will help you build strong, mutually beneficial relationships.
YOUR TURN: What are the other advice, tips, strategies, techniques, or methods that have worked for you when building relationships? Please share with us in the comment below.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.