The Importance of Building Authentic Business Relationships
Relationships are important in life. They make us feel safe and help us deal with stress. Relationships aren’t only important in your personal life, though. As a business owner, you should also build professional relationships. Relationship building from a business standpoint can help you get new customers, retain current customers and manage your reputation.
You can't operate a business without engaging people, and growing your company starts with establishing meaningful connections with others. Whether you're building relationships with customers, clients, vendors or other business leaders, you should aim to connect with them on a deeper level. So, how can you show the people you do business with that you genuinely care?
Building authentic business relationships starts with recognizing the importance of viewing everyone as a person with their own desires, motives and interests. Building relationships takes patience. You will have to invest time in building those relationships. You can’t just walk up to someone and say, “Hey, do want to have a business relationship with me?” Well, you could, but you probably shouldn’t. You wouldn’t just walk up to someone and say, “We’re friends now” either. Approach business relationships the same way.
Take the time to cultivate those relationships. You don’t have to invite everyone you meet at a networking event over for dinner, but get to know people. Talk to them. Give them your card and/or your email address.
As a busy business owner, it can be hard to take the time to meet new people. So here are some places where you can meet others:
- Chamber of Commerce and other local Civic and/or Service Organizations
- Local Networking Events, Ribbon Cuttings, Grand Openings, Ground
- Charity events
- LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a social network that focuses on professional networking and career development. You can use LinkedIn to display your resume, search for jobs, and enhance your professional reputation by posting updates and interacting with other people. And...meeting people and building your connections / network.
When you're working to build relationships with members of your community, keep these three (3) ideas in mind:
- Be Willing to Reciprocate. Remember that there is a "give" and a "take" in all relationships. If you aren’t willing to be there for someone who has been there or even who would be there for you, that person will be less likely to help you out if you need it.
- It’s Not All About the Benefits. Don’t be so focused on the end goal that you forget that it's possible you won't benefit professionally from the relationship. And hey, that’s okay! Look, you have friends who won’t help you move into a new home or let you borrow their truck, but you still think of them as friends. Similarly, sometimes your business relationships won’t turn a profit or bring in foot traffic.
- Just Be Genuine and Be Yourself. Treat others as you'd want to be treated, and welcome conversations, feedback and new ideas. You'll make new friends and maybe even get new customers in the process! Sometimes, the best conversationalist is one who listens.
If you build good relationships with people/organizations, the rewards are beneficial and endless for both parties. Remember, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get the results you’ve always received. You have to work hard, believe, and never give up.