How many times have you connected with a person at an event, and taken their business card?
What happens next?
Does the business card mysteriously go missing, lost in your bag perhaps?
Maybe the card makes it safely back to your desk only to “enjoy” being covered in dust over the coming weeks and months?
Collecting business cards is a popular way for people to kick off new business relationships. However, if you don’t do anything with those business cards, then you’re not building relationships, you are simply keeping a pile of business cards.
So, what are the benefits of good business relationships – and how do you build them?
Benefits of good business relationships
Owning or managing a business can be extremely rewarding, and often quite fun. It can also at times be rather lonely, stressful, and frustrating.
Having a carefully cultivated network of business “friends” can help you and your business in both the good times and the hard times.
Connecting with people on a meaningful level goes further than exchanging business cards. Think of it as a two-way street. For a relationship to blossom, you both must enjoy the relationship and feel you are getting some value.
However, do not think of value as simply a monetary term. The real value of good business relationships goes deeper than that!
- A listening ear when times are tough
If you are running a business then you will know that at times, it can feel lonely. Having someone to confide in when the whole thing seems overwhelming or when you have a particular business issue to work through is priceless.
- An extra pair of eyes and ears to help you find resources you may need
I have a wonderful group of business friends who regularly send me articles they think I might enjoy or a link to a training course that would suit my professional development. I can also put a call out to my business network and ask for recommendations for suppliers or business tools.
- A new source of lead generation
While you should not think of business friends as potential clients (no one likes being sold to constantly), they may refer you or recommend you to others who need your product or service. This will help create brand awareness and grow your business.
- Potential partners, co-workers, and employees
As you get to know each other, you might find your business goals and visions are similar and be interested in working as co-workers or even going into partnerships. Your business connections might also be a great source of employee talent – either directly or through their wider network.
- An opportunity for long term friendship
Business relationships can spill over into personal friendship and connection. We all need good friends in and out of business, and if some of your business relationships spill over into personal friendships, all the better!
How to build valuable business relationships
So, how do you build these valuable connections? For a start, you need to have honest intentions and be willing to work at developing connections with the right people.
Let’s go over some tips to get you connecting with people easily:
1. Listen to their needs
Try to listen more than you speak! When they do speak, can you hear their biggest business pain? Or what their business successes are? Think laterality about how you can help with the pains or leverage the successes. Please do not just try to sell your business to them without working out what they need first.
2. Be authentic
No one likes a fake, whether it’s a dodgy fake handbag or a fake person! So be honest and check your intentions regularly.
3. Show your value right away
Offer something before asking for something. Can you share some advice or an example of something you’ve learned? Do you have a free resource you can give?
4. Make it fun
Relationships are meant to be fun. Yes, even business relationships! So, have some fun while enjoying music, or arts, or exercise together. Why not plan to meet up for a walk? A coffee or wine?
5. Ensure mutual respect
I believe in treating others as you would want to be treated. This means respecting people’s boundaries, valuing their time, and valuing each other’s opinions and feelings.
6. Show up when it counts
You need to be visible, and you need to make an ACTUAL connection. So, follow up when you say you will. Attend the event your connection is hosting. Be online and comment on their post (with value). Reach out and connect with them personally whether it is through a coffee meeting, a work proposal, or whatever feels right for that particular relationship.
So now you’ve read all my tips, tell me how you plan to build your business connections?
And contact InkBlot VA to find out how we can help free up your time so you can focus on relationship-building strategies.