Building strong relationships is one of the most important business tools you can master. When you have good relationships, running your business is so much easier. People respond to you faster and are willing to go that extra mile for you.
Over the years, I have cultivated numerous business relationships. I recently examined them and tried to figure what made them work.
Here's what I found:
The 10 Best Business Relationship Building Tips to Help Your Profits Soar!
1. Know something personal about the people you do business with. Some people don't believe in mixing business with pleasure. But, your business should be your pleasure! Think about how much time you spend on your business. It makes it so much nicer to know what's important to your colleagues. For anyone who has kids, there is nothing more important to them. Make an effort to know their children's names.
Or, if your colleague is an avid golfer or tennis player; ask them how their game is going. This doesn't have to monopolize the entire conversation. But, it is a great way to start off a business lunch or meeting, especially if you have not seen that person in a while.
2. Always be sincere. Has this ever happened to you? You are at a conference, and you meet someone in your industry. You seem to hit it off well. And, you think this could be a good business connection. Your new business connection even initiates the card exchange and says, "Call me anytime." You follow-up right away with a phone call or email... and nothing happens. After a few weeks of trying, you realize it's a dead-end.
If you have no intention of cultivating a relationship do not give the impression otherwise. It's really ok not to offer cards at conferences. And, if someone asks you if they can call and you know you are not interested -- tell them up front. Be polite and respectful, but never give the impression that you are going to do something when you know you will not.
3. Respond to colleagues in a timely manner. We are all busy. Someone else's biggest priority is usually not our own. However, if you agree to do something for someone, do it in a timely manner.
Recently, a colleague wrote a book and wanted some feedback on his first chapter. Unfortunately, his request went into my junk email folder. When I saw the request three days later, I immediately sent him an email explaining the situation and told him I would read the chapter right away and send him my comments.
It was 11:00 p.m. when I saw the request. But, I still read the chapter and sent off my comments right before midnight. Sure, I would rather have gone to bed and done it in the morning. But, I knew this was important to him. We had been colleagues for 10 years. We had worked on multiple projects together, and he never missed a deadline.
Sure enough he was online and sent me a big thank you as soon as he received my email.
4. Always arrive on time. Fashionably late does not exist in business. Showing up late for business meetings or lunches lets the other person know you don't respect their time and that you think your time is more valuable. It also makes one question if the project will get done on time.
5. Never use your children as an excuse. Many times the reason for not finishing a report or being late for a meeting very well may be because one of your children wasn't feeling well, or they couldn't find their homework, or you forgot to pack school lunches.
Regardless of the reason, never walk into a business meeting that you are late for and announce that spot ate Carmon's homework and you spent the last hour redoing the assignment. Simply apologize for being tardy, ask what you missed, and move on.
There will be times when real emergencies occur. At that point it is perfectly fine to let your colleagues know that you need to leave because your child needs you.
6. Be Positive. No one likes to be around cranky people. Beside the fact that cranky people take the fun out of things, it can be draining and counter-productive. A study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that positive people accomplish more than negative people.
7. Know something about your potential business associate's company. If you are off to meet with a potential business associate make sure you do your homework. Understand the company's main function and core competencies. Know how long they have been in business. Have a basic understanding of how you can work together. With the Internet, all of this information is just a keyboard away.
8. Never, ever gossip. Being known as a gossip is the fastest way to destroy business relationship. Regardless of your skill set, no one will want to work with you. Gossip can destroy careers and takes up valuable time that could be spent on gratifying situations.
9. Give more than you get. Karma does exist. If you are known as the WIIFM (what's in it for me) type, you need to work to change your image. When you are willing to help others without payback, it comes back to you ten-fold. Don't get me wrong. We are all running businesses, working towards maintaining a balanced life. However, helping a business colleague without the expectation of payback will be far more beneficial to you in the end.
10. Just say no. Being a working mom, we try to please everyone. However there are times when saying no to a request in business is better than saying yes. If your plate is full and you know that you will not be able to honor the request in a satisfactory manner, then don't do it. If you know the outcome will be substandard, you are at risk of hindering your credibility, disappointing your colleagues, and missing deadlines on projects you have already committed to.
By saying no, your colleagues will actually respect you more for your honesty and commitment to finishing what you already started.
Make it your goal to work on this vital business building skill. Improving your relationships with business partners, colleagues, and all those you work with will bring many benefits.