Ways to build great business relationships in today’s professional world
The business world has advanced so drastically and most business owners and professionals, even the customers have understood the importance of building long lasting relationships.
In as much as it takes quite an amount of time to build such good, communal, lasting business relationships, so have many failed to put in the work it needs to sustain them because they did not make it their business.
Business relationships are building successful businesses than most sole business activities have in ages. These relationships are investments and they reward returns and have risks.
What is a business relationship?
“In simple words, they are networks built with selective group of people beyond traditional business activities for the benefits of the business in a long term” – Harmony Attise.
Business relationships don't happen out of the blue like some casual relationships. They are not love at first sight; they are selective investments. You reap where you sow.
In an era of small business economy and start up growth, people have become more intelligent in what they invest their time and money into. They have become focused and selective that even some businesses choose their own customers.
The business economy is blooming but most startups and small businesses are hard up – broke, hence, the need to invest in external activities such as building relationships.
A good business relationship do not only provide your business with networking opportunities or capacity building; selective – focused business relationships gives you support, business directions, industry insight, and financial cushions in the heat of bankruptcy amongst others. In this kind of relationship, one must find the balance between give and take. None supersedes the other. Both are equally a must and interdependent.
How do you know which business relationship is best for your business?
Actually, all business relationships, no matter its kind, are necessary for your business’ success. There are many kinds of business relationships. Here's a list of a few you may already know.
- Business – client relationship
- Business – business relationship
- Business – professionals relationship
- Business – investor relationship
- Employer – employee relationship
- Teammates – teammates relationship
- Business – competitor relationship etc
This article is focused on the a, b and c. These three share similar relationship values and interests.
How do you build lasting result-full business relationships?
As earlier indicated above, businesses are run by people and for people. It cannot achieve ultimate success if it does not build genuine relationships with the people at all levels. Your business would not obtain growth and for you as a business owner. The reality is that, business relationships are quite just like other relationship. They need to be developed, maintained and have mutual benefits. The law of give and take must apply in all levels as well. The end results must be an expectation of both parties.
- Customers must effortlessly choose to stay with your business in both good and bad days of the business. This would be because of the relationship the business has built with them overtime. When customers or clients relates with the business, it establishes a bond of loyalty. They become connected to the business, the brand you build and develop love for the people that runs the business.
- Other businesses, despite competition, should be in good standing with your business. Mutual respect and ethical practices would promote healthy rivalry in competing markets.
- Professional networks, should mean more than just a source of receiving help, referrals and other benefits of business relationships but also a platform to give and share what you equally have.
In short, business relationships are important part of every organization and a way of building lasting relevant businesses for the end user - people. Being the big entity, the startups or the small businesses, these relationships are essential for growth and profitability. They are reliable, they are ethical and they are professional.
Here are ways to build lasting business relationships in today’s professional world.
- Be patient
Relationships are work. It requires good efforts to be successful. The first important lesson about any relationship is to know they take time to develop, grow and be maintained. You don't build a relationship with customers over night or even with your professional networks. Patience!
Every business went through the process of getting their first customers and gradually establishes a relationship to get more. You do not join a network for a week and then begin to ask for all the favors at once. You build a bond. All these take time.
- Build a personal relationship (with yourself)
I am quite an introvert and it has been a difficult journey in building business relationships. But here's a deeper side to building a personal relationship with yourself before any other. Businesses are built on founder’s values and principles. You first understand yourself and hold dear your values, then you can extend that hospitality to others.
In the years of my entrepreneurial journey, I learnt to sustain a personal relationship with myself. I understood my own expectations as an individual and created a reliable chain of values to achieve them. It became easier to learn about another person and respect their expectations. Gradually, I built my business on these core values and extended it to the end users (customers) without taking away their values but instead meeting their expectations.
A personal relationship with yourself fosters an external relationship. It's like a brooder. The later is built on the other. If you do not understand yourself as your first customer and your first point of network, you can never understand your customers and build a better relationship with them. Personal relationship is the basis of all other relationships.
- Create focus - don’t be everywhere
Create a selective and focused business relationship. You do not have to be everywhere and doing everything to build solid business relationships. Define your business relationships.
Set goals. It is important to know the kind of relationship that would promote your business in every positive way. Where and how to build them. Not all business relationships would be in the best interest of your business.
- Be visible
Maintain a strong reliable presence all the time, regardless the network. Whether on social networks, one on one or face to face, be advantageously visible. Connect whenever possible. Provide updates on feeds, to customers, networks etc.
- Get personal; not promiscuous
It is a human based relationship; obviously some people would certainly break some rules. Get personal does not mean an opportunity to flirt or cross your boundaries. These days, you have all kinds of people in the name of ‘networks, associations’ etc flirting with you on your social network platforms. Others even go the extra mile to do it when they have a face to face opportunity.
There are instances where customers get overly personal with their service providers (services in any business form). Customers break the rules too.
Building business relationships for the benefits of your business is limited to business. It does not extend to your individual desires. You must learn to respect others zones of comfort, and remain professional at all cost.
There is a thin line between professional and personal relationship. Create a ‘relational’ connection to be seen as human than just a mere business. Send cards on holidays, share values, show concerns, understand their needs, listen when they have bountiful complaints about your services or products etc. Now that is what we refer to as ‘Getting personal’
Talk less and listen more.
Listen when customers complain or share feedbacks.
Listen to your networks when they share views on common interests, economic issues, industry changes etc.
Listen when competitors engage their customers and networks openly.
Listen and listen more.
It is the only way to get important information to improve your business, guarantee business success through analyzing feedbacks and build yourself as an individual brand.