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11 Ways to Build Solid, Strong, Lasting Business Relationships

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It takes a dedicated amount of time and energy to build good, strong, lasting business relationships today. They are such an integral and necessary part of success, but people don’t seem to want to put in the work.

Alert: lasting business relationships just don’t happen and develop without the dedicated, consistent work.

Our business network should be a qualified, selective group of people we count on, tap into and rely on for support, direction and insight. We have to find that balance of being givers and takers. We can’t just give or take, we need both. Far too many people don’t ask for help when they need it and that can be fatal in small business.

Selectivity, consistency and engagement are essential for finding great people and growing relationships with them.

Here are ways to build lasting business relationships in today’s professional world.

1. Be Authentic

This is pretty simple. Be who you are and accept others as they are. It’s easy to create a false persona, especially online, but that is not the way to start a relationship and short lived when we start qualifying people and companies. Find people and companies you feel a natural connection and ease of communication with and things you both have in common. The authenticity of connecting personality, beliefs and point of view can accelerate relationships.

2. Identify Shared Goals and Values

We seek out people in life we like, share similar goals and values with. Are they honest, kind, knowledgeable, helpful? How do they treat others? This is about moral character. Do we respect them? I have sadly seen too many people present themselves one way only to take advantage of people, once they have their trust. We may not always share the same point of view with everyone, but the shared values are a must.

3. Develop Mutual Respect

I find this takes time, unless someone is referred to you by a trusted connection. We prove ourselves over time and through different activities and experiences. Join a chamber, professional group, or online community which are all great environments to develop relationships. Be patient, selective and watch people in action. Building mutual respect is an essential for growing relationships.

4. Share Some Vulnerability

We are human and sometimes that means sharing and supporting people through difficulty, challenge and change. Showing our vulnerability is part of our authenticity. One word of caution: this is best shared with a select few rather than more publicly. Use good judgment here.

5. “I’ve Got Your Back”

Let people know that you have their back as a way of showing loyalty to them. I have been at way too many events where gossip and unnecessary conversations go down among people that simple shouldn’t be doing that. As tricky as this can be, I have selectively addressed certain people directly and respectfully asked them to reconsider those conversations and choose not to continue interacting with them.

6. Make Meaningful Connections for People to Network with Each Other

The greatest compliment in business is a referral. We should be thoughtful, have the right motives and be connecting people for the right reasons. Not all referrals work out. It takes two to make it happen and work, so don’t be doing all the work.

7. Get More Personal

If you really want to get to know people, ask them to go for coffee so that you can talk more personally, one on one. Be willing to share experiences, ideas, points of view and simply learn more about each other’s story, family and professional history.

8. Plan Something Fun to Do Together

All work and no play makes us dull! Be willing to go out and do something fun together that may not have anything to do with work. Music, art, entertainment, meet ups and community events are all fun things to do to see different sides of people. Not to mention some random and memorable conversations and laughs that can come out of it.

9. Let Go of Expectations

Always go into relationships with an open mind, realistic expectations and never assume. People are only who we think they are based on what our interactions have been with them. One of the best pieces of advice I got from a client was: accept the way people are not as you want them to be. If we have preconceived expectations of people, then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

10. Schedule Brainstorming Time

Block out dedicated time to brainstorm, engage and do business together. Best to set a regular time, a time limit and an agenda for what you want to accomplish in it. Leave some time unexpected discussion.

11. Offer Something Before Asking for Something

In 2010, Trendwatching.com came out with a trend brief that highlighted “serving is the new selling”. They put a name on what we were already knew was the trend shift in sales and marketing and now it is the norm in business, social media and content marketing.

When we educate, help and inspire others with our experience and expertise, we are building the foundation for trust that underlies relationships that endure. When we blog, create content, speak, do a workshop, webinar, write an e-book, go to events, we are serving and helping.

When we get more serious and engaged on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media where community gathers and exchanges ideas, we are serving and helping . Serving and helping builds trust like nothing else.

SectionKey Points

Introduction- Building lasting business relationships requires time and effort.

– These relationships are crucial for success.

– Consistent dedication is necessary for their development.

Building a Qualified Business Network- Network should consist of supportive, reliable individuals.

– Balancing giving and taking is essential.

– Not asking for help when needed can be detrimental.

– Selectivity, consistency, and engagement are vital.

Ways to Build Lasting Business Relationships- Be authentic and accept others as they are.

– Identify shared goals and values with others.

– Develop mutual respect over time.

– Share vulnerability selectively.

– Express loyalty by having others’ backs.

– Make meaningful connections for networking.

– Get more personal through one-on-one interactions.

– Plan fun activities together outside of work.

– Let go of preconceived expectations.

– Schedule dedicated brainstorming time.

– Offer value and assistance before seeking it.

The Power of Serving and Helping- Educate, help, and inspire others to build trust.

– Content creation, workshops, and events are ways to serve and help.

– Engagement on social media platforms fosters trust.

The Power of Follow-Up

Effective follow-up is a crucial component of building lasting business relationships. It’s not enough to make an initial connection; you need to nurture and sustain those connections over time. Here are some key practices for successful follow-up:

Set Reminders: Use digital tools or apps to schedule reminders for follow-up actions. This could include sending a thank-you note, checking in on a previous conversation, or sharing relevant content with your contacts.
Personalized Communication: When following up, make your messages personal and relevant to the recipient. Mention specific details from your previous interactions to show that you value the relationship.
Add Value: Each follow-up should offer something of value to the other person. Whether it’s sharing an interesting article, introducing them to a potential business opportunity, or offering your expertise, adding value demonstrates your commitment to the relationship.
Consistency: Establish a regular cadence for follow-up, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or as needed. Consistent communication helps maintain the connection and keeps you top of mind.
Express Gratitude: Don’t forget to express gratitude for the relationship and any support or collaboration that has taken place. A simple thank-you can go a long way in strengthening the bond.
Listen Actively: During follow-up conversations, actively listen to your contacts. Ask open-ended questions to understand their evolving needs and challenges. This shows that you genuinely care about their success.
Stay Updated: Stay informed about your contacts’ professional developments, achievements, and milestones. Congratulate them on their successes and offer assistance when they face challenges.
Networking Events: Attend industry-specific events, conferences, and seminars to reconnect with your network. Face-to-face interactions can solidify relationships and create new opportunities.
Feedback Loop: Encourage open and honest feedback from your contacts. Constructive feedback can help you improve your interactions and better serve their needs.
Reciprocity: Be willing to reciprocate when your contacts need assistance or support. Building a network is a two-way street, and your willingness to help will be appreciated.
Adapt and Evolve: As your business and industry evolve, so should your approach to follow-up. Stay adaptable and adjust your strategies to meet changing needs and circumstances.

Key Practices for Successful Follow-UpDescription

Set RemindersUse digital tools to schedule reminders for follow-up actions.

Personalized CommunicationMake your follow-up messages personal and relevant to the recipient.

Add ValueOffer something valuable during each follow-up, demonstrating your commitment to the relationship.

ConsistencyEstablish a regular follow-up schedule, maintaining consistent communication to stay top of mind.

Express GratitudeShow gratitude for the relationship and any support or collaboration that has occurred.

Listen ActivelyActively listen during follow-up conversations, asking open-ended questions to understand their needs.

Stay UpdatedKeep informed about contacts’ professional developments, achievements, and offer assistance when needed.

Networking EventsAttend industry-specific events to reconnect with your network, solidifying relationships and creating opportunities.

Feedback LoopEncourage open and honest feedback from contacts to improve interactions and better serve their needs.

ReciprocityBe willing to reciprocate support when contacts need assistance, recognizing networking as a two-way street.

Adapt and EvolveAdjust your follow-up strategies to align with changing business and industry dynamics.

The Art of Networking Etiquette

Networking etiquette plays a pivotal role in building and maintaining lasting business relationships. It’s not just about what you say and do; it’s also about how you navigate the social and professional landscape. Here are some key principles of networking etiquette:

Be Punctual: Arrive on time for networking events, meetings, and appointments. Being punctual shows respect for others’ time.
Professional Attire: Dress appropriately for the occasion. Your appearance should reflect the level of professionalism expected in your industry.
Respect Personal Space: Maintain an appropriate physical distance when engaging in face-to-face conversations. Be mindful of others’ personal space and comfort zones.
Active Listening: When in conversation, listen attentively to what others are saying. Avoid interrupting and show genuine interest in their perspectives.
Introduce Yourself Clearly: When introducing yourself, use a clear and concise self-introduction that includes your name and professional background.
Exchange Contact Information: Carry business cards and be ready to exchange contact information. Ensure your contact details are up-to-date.
Follow Up: After meeting someone, send a follow-up email or message expressing your appreciation for the conversation and your interest in staying in touch.
Respect Diverse Perspectives: Be open to diverse viewpoints and backgrounds. Avoid controversial topics that may lead to uncomfortable discussions.
Avoid Over-Promotion: While networking is about self-promotion to some extent, avoid coming across as overly self-centered. Focus on building relationships, not just selling your products or services.
Help Others First: Offer assistance or support to others without expecting an immediate return. Building goodwill can lead to reciprocal favors in the future.
Mind Your Digital Presence: Be mindful of your online behavior, as potential connections often research your digital footprint. Keep your social media profiles professional and free from offensive content.
Exit Conversations Gracefully: If you need to end a conversation, do so gracefully by expressing your enjoyment of the discussion and a desire to reconnect later.
Express Gratitude: When others extend help or support, express gratitude sincerely. Thank them for their time, advice, or assistance.
Follow Event Guidelines: Adhere to any specific guidelines or rules set by event organizers. These guidelines ensure a smooth and respectful networking environment.
Stay Positive and Engaging: Maintain a positive attitude and engage with others in a friendly and approachable manner. A warm smile can go a long way.

Trust is the one ingredient that builds strong, long lasting business relationships.

If you put in the time and work, you will be rewarded.  

Relationships Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “11 Ways to Build Solid, Strong, Lasting Business Relationships” was first published on Small Business Trends

It’s an accepted axiom that relationships are important in business. So then why do some entrepreneurs spend so little time building and nurturing healthy relationships? Don’t wait until you need a partner, customer or favor to start reaching out.Read MoreMarketing Tips, Customer SatisfactionSmall Business Trends

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