Building great business relationships is a key to every entrepreneurs success. Major corporations now employ Relationship Managers, and their sole job is to keep these clients loyal to the business - and with good reason - relationships are KEY!
If you want to have strong relationships with your clients, potential clients, collaborators and colleagues you are going to have to nurture and maintain them.
The key thing to remember when building relationships is to make it about 'them' not 'you' in the first instance.
If you are reaching out to do a talk at a yoga studio for instance, you will want to build the relationship by letting the studio know what is in it for them - how you feel your talk could benefit their clients. Show you care, show you know what they are about and show you are looking to add value to their mission.
The same applies to relationships you build with colleagues.
Something that jumps out to me regularly is just how different people approach relationship building when contacting me. I get emails every day from other coaches who have seen what I'm doing online and want to know how I did something.
Some will start a conversation, genuinely want to get to know me, share how my work has impacted them or something they've taken notice of from my work and then ask if I'm open to helping them with something once rapport has been built.
The first makes me feel seen as a human who is working for a cause, makes me feel good knowing my work has made an impact and builds rapport and trust; from that place I 'want' to give back.
Others email or facebook message me with no introduction at all and dive straight into what they want...
Guess which one's get my time and energy in return?
Here’s my top tips for building strong relationships in your business:
1. Keep in touch with people
It sounds basic, but with the advent of social media, we’re starting to forget how to do it. 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.
2. Keep note of whom you’ve met
It’s handy to keep record of who you have networked with and check in with them every so often. If they’re online contacts, 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.
3. Build trust
Never take advantage of people as it’s the easiest way to ruin a relationship and build a weak reputation. The key to building trust is being honest and dependable, and you’ll see your relationships flourish.
4. Network, network, network
Networking is the key to building successful relationships, and there are now hundreds of ways you can do so. Google local groups, Toastmasters, or try Meetup.com for entrepreneur groups in your city. There are literally hundreds! As long as you are engaging with other people, you are actively networking. 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. Remember to make sure you have the two vital ingredients to networking – an up to date business card and Linked In profile!
5. Work hard
People want to invest in someone who is going to provide results so when someone asks for something, go above and beyond to deliver. Hard work is always rewarded.
I'd love to hear in the comments below how you approach relationship building in your own business.