You’ve probably heard that you can never have too many friends – and that’s especially true when it comes to business peers, partners, customers and clients. Getting to know potential clients and other business owners before talking about business is one of the first things I do.
I recently found myself catching up with a friend who was lamenting about how hard it can be to build thriving business relationships. As a small business owner, she’s noticed (and heard from other folks) that many people seem to view networking groups and events strictly through a “what’s in it for me” filter. In other words, they’re only there to promote their products and services, not to build long-term business relationships. After a few meetings, in which these people don’t make any sales from the members of that group, they’re never seen nor heard from again. This is understandably very frustrating, so I can understand her anger.
Unfortunately, what she needs to realize is people who approach networking in this manner aren’t the people that she would want to create and maintain long-term relationships with in the first place. Building strong, lasting business relationships takes time and effort. They don’t just happen over night. You have to consistently work at them to make them grow and flourish. As a business coach who has worked on creating and maintaining long-lasting business relationships myself, I want to share with you some ways you can build these successful relationships, too. By putting in the time and work to consistently apply these steps, you will be rewarded with long-lasting business relationships. Here are my 3 steps to building long-lasting business relationships.
STEP 1. Be A Friend
According to Brian Tracy in his book, “Change Your Thinking Change Your Life,” the best way to achieve things with people is by taking a more indirect route rather than a direct one. You should actually like them first. Don’t try to get them to like you by boasting about your accomplishments or trying hard to be clever. Admire and give your respect to them first. Give unexpected praise to help others feel better about themselves. Take the time every day to do something nice for someone else. Treat people in a friendly way without expecting anything in return.
STEP 2. Put Others First
As a member of John Maxwell’s Team, I’ve heard him say, “The measure of success is not the number of people who serve you, but the number of people you serve.” You have to learn how to focus not on receiving, but giving. You do this by constantly and consistently adding value to the lives of others. Refer business to them. Make introductions that would be beneficial to them. Send them articles and other information you know they would be interested in. Serving and helping others builds trust which is easily one of the most important steps in building strong business relationships.
STEP 3. Resist Relationship Decline
Once you create a relationship, you have to continually work at maintaining it. Everything in life takes effort. Don’t take your relationships for granted. Don’t assume that everything is fine. You need to take the time to communicate with the other person consistently. This is especially important if you’re working on building and maintaining customer relationships. Take the time to develop a customer relationship management (CRM) plan to help you continuously improve your client relationships. Otherwise, if you neglect your customers, they may decide to go to one of your competitors. Remember, it’s far easier to keep a current customer than it is to attract a new one. Therefore, make the time and effort to stay in touch.