Whether you have a business of your own or are in employment, business relationships are just as important as your personal relationships. You spend most of your waking hours at work, so you need to make sure that you put some effort into your business relationships or your working life will become not just miserable, but very unproductive.
Have you ever heard of “Relationship ROI”? If you’re not aware of ROI, it’s an acronym for “Return on Investment”. Relationship ROI is all about the emphasis on the investment you are making in your business relationships and how much of an impact they can have on the success of your business dealings.
If you create and develop good business relationships then the return on that investment will be huge and far reaching, so here are 10 tips that will help you with developing those relationships:
1. First impressions:
First impressions count so you need to start the business relationship as you mean to go on. Don’t pile all the attention onto a prospective client before the sale and then abandon them as soon as they have signed on the dotted line. You will lose your customers as fast as your reputation. If you are employed don’t cozy up to people when you need their help and ignore them when you don’t, people will soon get wise and stop helping you.
2. Don’t take on too much
The worst thing you can do is over promise and under deliver. If you do this people will very quickly lose confidence in your abilities and will no longer trust your ability to come up with the goods.
3. Act with integrity
Be honest, fair and reliable. Don’t take the easy way over the right way. If you do a sloppy job, it will come back to haunt you.
i) Networking is a great way to build new business relationships that may prove invaluable in your current or future career, but networking needs to be done the right way. When you are networking make sure that you listen to people and remember what they say. You can refer to these things at a later date and they will know you really have paid attention to them and will feel you were genuinely interested in, or valued what they had to say. People will remember you for this as all many people want to do is talk about themselves.
ii) Notice how people communicate and try to mirror that so that they feel you are on a similar wavelength. Do it in a non-cynical and genuine way and you will find that you’ll have the ability to connect with people really naturally. It’s not about trying to CHANGE your personality to match theirs but rather finding and building on common ground. Where are your personalities similar? Do you share any interests or points of view? We all behave differently with different people anyway; this is just about putting more thought into how you do it in a work environment. If you are able to make people feel comfortable with you, the easier and more productive that relationship will be.
iii) It’s important to say thank-you, whether it’s to someone thanking them for their business, to someone who has put some business your way or if someone has helped you in any respect. We all like to be acknowledged and want to know that people appreciate what we do rather than just taking it for granted. If someone has given you a referral, send a thank-you note and if appropriate, a gift. They will remember you over the people that don’t do this and who do you think they will refer to in the future? It creates a win-win situation.
Every relationship and business relationship need give and take, if not resentment will build up if one party believes that the other always gets their way. Compromising is not a sign of weakness, in fact it’s quite the opposite if you’re strong enough to publicly accept that you don’t have the solutions to everything and that you realize the value and necessity of other peoples’ contributions.
6. If things go wrong
Don’t ever give anyone any ammunition to say that you have been unprofessional. Don’t burn any bridges, you never know when previous contacts may come in useful. Always leave a business relationship on the best terms possible
Respect and acknowledge others rights to their opinions – even if they’re not the same as your own
8. Help others to be successful and they will help you.
No man (or woman) is an island. We all need to build, develop and share our knowledge and skills within our networks. Partner with people who have the skills that you don’t have. So much more can be achieved with others than could ever possibly be achieved on our own.
If you are ever in doubt as to how you should behave in your business relationships, then just treat others the way you would like to be treated and you’ll usually find that’s a great place to start!