Despite the Internet and mobile technology have enabled many of us to do business while barely leaving our chairs, it’s vital to cultivate strong personal relationships with your professional counterparts to be truly successful. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day whirlwind of work, but it’s important to remember that ultimately, you’re working with people, not just products and consumers. Just like any healthy friendship, networking in business is about striking a balance between giving and taking; here, we look at 5 tips that will help you to cultivate strong relationships with your clients and associates.
Give a Gift
Fact: everyone loves receiving gifts. Giving a gift to an associate for their birthday or simply as a token of your goodwill is a fantastic way to build trust and show your appreciation. For those of us who don’t view shopping for presents as our forte, there are plenty of online stores dedicated to corporate gifts where you can purchase high-quality promotional products for clients and business partners. The simple act of gift-giving demonstrates that you took the time to think of them, and will help to strengthen your relationship.
Identify Shared Goals
In life, people naturally gravitate towards others with whom they share common whose values and interests. Set aside the time to catch up with your associate over coffee and get to know them – ask about their business background and what they like to do outside of work, and share your own interests. When you identify your shared values and goals, you can keep this person in mind if you need assistance or support with a particular issue, or send a great referral their way in the future.
One significant benefit of social media is that it’s now possible to stay up-to-date with the lives of friends and colleagues by just scrolling through your news feed. However, don’t rely on social media as your only means of staying in touch. If you see that your associate has received a promotion, give them a call to personally congratulate them rather than just hitting the like button. Make sure to arrange a time to catch up for lunch or coffee every so often – face-to-face contact is invaluable when it comes to relationships, as it provides a much more personal touch than communicating via text or email.
Ensure to return calls, emails and messages from your connections promptly. Even if you can’t give them what they want, remaining proactive about communication earns the trust of those around you. If you meet with an associate to discuss business, send them a follow-up email thanking them for their time and summarizing any main points agreed upon. It might sound like a cliché, but actions speak louder than words, and your reliability will speak volumes to your associate.
Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry
It may be tempting to complain about a nightmarish client with a business partner, but it’s best to keep your grievances to yourself. In business communities, gossip has the potential to spread like wildfire and can easily damage your reputation and credibility as a professional. Remaining polite and respectful is your best bet when it comes to professional relationships – you never know when something you let slip out may come back to bite you.
Whether in our business or personal lives, the crucial factor in fostering strong connections is trust. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to building healthy, meaningful relationships that will benefit your business for years to come.