In the big, wide world of business, the importance of having business relationships pretty much speaks for itself. Building and managing business relationships is a skill set all its own, and like other areas in your business, these relationships have to be managed in order to continue to help your company. Building relationships in business should be treated as an important task — right up with accounting, marketing and sales.
Exactly like they sound, business relationships are the connections between all the parties in your company, both internally and (more importantly) externally. These are the relationships with the various stakeholders, business partners, employees and other associates that are connected with your company.
The world of business and commerce is a tough one, and it’s important to have a high standard of trust, loyalty and communication in order to survive the various issues that pop up along the way. Long-term business relationships that value these attributes are an asset to any company, as they foster trust, honesty, transparency and collaboration within the business relationship.
There are several ways to help gain (and grow) business relationships. A few of the most important ones are the following:
The most important way to manage business relationships is to communicate. No matter what else you do, the ability to communicate clearly, honestly and in a timely manner is vital. This is no different, really, from any other type of personal relationship — the ability to communicate is key. If you say what you do and do what you say, you’re already halfway there.
Honesty isn’t just the best policy — it should be the only policy. Speaking the truth, even when the truth isn’t the easiest answer, goes a long way. It will build trust between you and your business relationships, and that goodwill will pay dividends.
Nobody wants to be contacted only when somebody wants something from them. Staying in touch — even casually — will help to maintain your business relationships. Even when there is no “official business” to deal with, keeping yourself (or your company) “top of mind” with someone — such as by sending them a newsletter, personal note or an article or news story that you feel they may find useful and/or interesting — will help positively maintain those relationships.
Keeping everything close to your vest may work wonders at the poker table, but in your business life, that’s probably not the best way to go. The ability to share knowledge and resources with your business relationships and associates will also go a long way, as it not only develops trust and two-way communication with these relationships, but as it will also raise your company’s profile and position you as an expert and highly trusted resource in your industry.
Taking business relationships to a personal level can be a tightrope-walking act, but treating these relationships as interpersonal connections and not just as cogs in a relationship machine will prove beneficial. As much as business is done virtually and electronically these days, there is no substitute for in-person meetings. Take advantage of all the different ways you can help make your business relationships “more personal.”
Trust, communication, honesty and respect are just a few of the foundations of any relationship — both personal and professional. Knowing that and bringing these attributes into your business relationships will do nothing but help them thrive.
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