Businesses are built on relationships. In fact, they are living proof of the saying, “No man is an island.” Products aren’t made on their own, services don’t sell themselves, and partnerships can’t be created without meaningful interaction between people.
The ability to build strategic business relationships is a skill that some people naturally have and the rest of us can learn. Either way it’s a skill we all need to master if we want to experience the pinnacle of success. Make relationship building your ONE Thing with the steps below, and 2016 will be the year your network starts working for you.
Few people are going to make an effort to build a relationship with someone they aren’t that fond of even if there’s a possible upside. Likeable people, on the other hand, attract others like a magnet. They are warm, helpful, and friendly. They have a positive energy and make an effort to get to know people.
Create Emotional Stake in Success
MIT lecturer Jim Dougherty told Harvard Business Review that the key is to build a connection that makes others want to take “an emotional stake” in your success. Mr. Dougherty says that begins with being likable. But it takes time to create a rapport that builds into trust by being genuine, selfless, and letting others into your life. The other person needs to know that if they go out on a limb for you, you won’t let them down.
Give as Much as You Get
Strategic business relationships aren’t one sided. They offer both people real benefit and value. Identify ways that you can help partners further their career without being asked and they’ll reciprocate.
Don’t Make the Relationship Strictly Business
When you show interest in a person’s life outside of work, it gets noticed. The other person will feel like you care about them and not necessarily about what they can do for you. Showing interest in the things that interest them also helps build trust, which is a strong pillar for any long-lasting relationship.
Actions speak louder than words in the business world. Part of winning someone’s trust is earning their respect through hard work, follow-through, and professionalism at all times.
Spend Quality Time Outside of Work
Emotional connections are often solidified outside of the workplace with one-on-one interaction. This gives the other person a look at who you are as a person, not just as an employee, colleague, or partner. Spend quality time with each other, sharing interests and learning about each other’s personal lives in a relaxed environment.
Genuine relationships that will further your business take time. You’ll need to spend hours interacting, listening and helping on a consistent, regular basis to make a bond that goes beyond personal gain. After enough time, the relationship will surpass the benefits that were first perceived and become even more rewarding.
Keep Track of Communication
The more relationships you build, the harder it will be to juggle them all. Because you don’t want to go too long without communicating, it can be beneficial to track communication. Services like Followup.cc and VIPOrbit can help you keep a record of online communication, but keep in mind that in-person interaction is even more important to track.
Don’t Spread Your Relationship Building Too Thin
Being strategic in your relationship building means being conservative in the relationships you pursue. Meaningful relationships take time and energy to create. If you try to connect with everyone, your focus will be so divided you’ll end up with a lot of acquaintances you barely know.
You may have noticed a trend in the tips above. Getting people invested in your success by investing in them is the common denominator in developing key business relationships. Doing that will naturally lead to the support you need to find fulfillment in your work life.