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5 Keys to Building Business Relationships
Building business relationships is critical in the professional services, yet for some reason this task is often neglected.
MAY 26, 2022
5 Keys to Building Business Relationships
C-Suite Topics Strategy Any IndustryELIZABETH HARR
Senior Partner Visit Bio More by this author
Few would argue with the notion that building business relationships is critical in professional services. And while marketing efforts typically focus on pricing and service strategy, or articulation of a firm’s competitive position, their real advantage lies in the strength of their relationships.
An important body of Hinge’s research, Inside the Buyer’s Brain, Third Edition, found that most buyers who are trying to select a firm rely heavily on a firm’s relevant experience and expertise. These factors are represented by two of the top three bars in the chart below. This makes intuitive sense — if buyers know you are an expert in your service area, they are more likely to buy from you.
Just like any personal relationship, business relationships require continual maintenance. A mutual benefit and ongoing communication are important ingredients to success. In the long run, having close and trusting contacts will give you an edge, especially when other marketing tactics aren’t working. Here are 5 keys to building and maintaining business relationships:
1. Routinely Reach Out to Important Contacts
It is impossible to have weekly or monthly conversations with all of the contacts in your CRM system. But you focus on the valuable ones. Pinpoint your best clients, partners, and vendors and continually check up on them. Express your interest in their business and let them know that you are here to help. If you want to keep the relationship alive make this outreach routine. If you let too much time go by, your eventual contact will seem less genuine. And don’t ignore the power of your LinkedIn connections. When executed properly, a social media strategy is the digital sister to in-person networking – and it can be fast and efficient way to ensure your are routinely reaching out.
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2. Offer Help Before You Ask for Help
Building business relationships doesn’t mean tapping into your resources whenever you need something. If the only time you ever contact a former client is when you have a new service offering, your gesture won’t seem authentic. Similarly, if you call your vendor only when you are looking for a good deal, don’t expect to get one.
Spend time figuring out how you can help your important business contacts. What value can you offer to spark the conversation?
3. Ask for Feedback
Instead of your clients and vendors are happy, Open communication is a basic component of any relationship. When you ask your contacts how they feel, you promote a two-way conversation that can uncover areas for improvement. Some firms conduct client satisfaction surveys to gather feedback. But usually it’s best to pick up the phone and talk to your closest contact at a firm. If this is your top client, you want to make sure they are content.
4. Find Ways to Connect with Less Valuable Contacts
As new contacts enter your world, try to build trust over time with email marketing. Because you can’t interact with everyone in your email address book on a weekly basis, leverage technology to do some of the work for you.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow you to set up email sequences that will routinely send email to your contacts. This is no substitute for a real relationship, but it will at least keep your firm on the top of people’s minds.
Note that this does not mean blasting your list with non targeted emails. Instead, focus on educational content that your audience will find relevant and practical. There are two types of emails to consider:Educational emails provide content that is meant to be informative. These emails give something of value to the reader without asking for anything in return. Because educational emails are highly valued by your audience, they should make up about 80% of the emails that you send out.Offer emails are for when you want the recipient to do something, such as download a presentation or paper, and you are hoping to move them to a deeper level of engagement. Whether this engagement is a meeting or trying out one of your services, you want them to take a specific next step. Although offer emails should account for the other 20% of emails, you wouldn’t want to send these until you’ve created value for your audience. And offer emails should only go to folks who have already downloaded several pieces of your content. Unless specifically requested, you absolutely would not want an offer email to be sent to someone you just met at a networking event.
Here are a few tips we’ve discovered for highly effective email marketing:
Ensure the look and feel of your email reflects your brand at every touchpoint.
Ensure they are mobile friendly.
Segment your distribution list so you can be strategic about which emails go to which list.
Remember the 80/20 rule. No matter how many or how few emails you send out, the balance of them (80%) should be educational, while the remainder (20%) are offers.
6 Ways To Build Business Relationships Through Communication
Good communication is key to securing partnerships. Here are a few tips for how you should go about it.
6 Ways To Build Business Relationships Through Communication
Published: Jan 25, 2021
Topics: Networking Workplace Issues
For entrepreneurs, building relationships is essential for long-term growth, profitability, and sustainability. And to build relationships—with customers, employees, vendors, and investors—good communication is key. So here are six tips on how to communicate better to improve your business partnerships.1. Overcommunicate
This sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not. You should never be afraid to communicate too much. Keeping your partners and contacts informed is critical to a healthy business relationship. Regular status updates and reports in your projects or other collaborations will save your partners time with respect to asking for updates, and help assure them that you’re working with their best interests at heart.
Perhaps most important, this approach will keep the element of surprise out of the equation. You’d want your vendors to let you know ASAP if there was a supply issue or some delivery block, so make sure to let all your partners know what’s happening at your end, too.
Healthy communication is critical to mishap management. It keeps problems under wraps before they balloon out of control. This will give your partners confidence that you’ll let them know if and when a problem arises in the future, which will improve trust overall in the relationship and pave the way for future deep collaboration.2. Keep Your Commitments
Being true to your word will go a long way towards building trust between you and your partners. If you say you’ll deliver something by a given date, you need to get it done by then. People will take note of this sort of commitment to your work. Once partners and customers know you’ll meet your deadlines, they’ll realize that you’re worth working with in the long run. It also helps to build a little bit of goodwill in case of any other mishaps or mixups on your end.
As a general rule, do the best job you can all the time. That way, your partners will be more accommodating when stuff does fall through the cracks (because it happens to the best of us!).3. Honesty
Honesty in business relationships is perhaps the most important principle you can have. If you stay honest with your communication and dealings, you’ll earn trust more than through any other factor. Clients, vendors, and employees will be able to tell if you’re attempting to twist the truth. They may not know what the truth is, but it’s fairly easy to tell when someone is weaseling out of something.
More important, once someone gets a negative vibe about you and your business, it’s almost impossible to change their mind.
By the same logic, don’t be afraid to tell someone, “I don’t know.” Don’t hem and haw, just be honest and direct. People will appreciate your honesty in these situations, even if you aren’t telling them good news, particularly if you follow up quickly with a promise to find an answer to whatever questions or concerns they have. That said, don’t make a habit of saying, “I don’t know,” either!4. Keep in Touch
If you don’t nurture your business relationships, they’ll dry up just like any other relationships. If you’re always at the forefront of someone’s mind, they’re much more likely to think of you when new opportunities arise.
Remember: Social media isn’t just for scrolling. Social media tools can make it incredibly easy to stay in touch, even if you’re just sharing posts and commenting. All told, just make a point of keeping yourself on the radar of as many people as possible, and not only will you maintain your existing relationships, but new partnerships and opportunities will start to come your way.5. Share Share Share!
It’s worth noting that no one likes a resource hog. In a healthy partnership or relationship, both parties should share their knowledge and resources. For example, loss prevention and asset protection are extremely important for many businesses. If your brand specializes in security products, you’ll give even greater benefit to your clients and partners if you share your expertise and know-how in business security techniques, regardless of whether or not the simple act of sharing that knowledge leads to a sale.6. The Personal Touch
A business relationship that exists completely on text messages, Slack, and email will never be as secure as one that's based on face-to-face interaction (of course, these days, that means masking up and keeping socially distant while interacting). Look for as many opportunities as possible to meet your partners in person, whether socially at a coffee shop or golf course, or at some sort of trade event in your industry. Face time is more beneficial than you know. These experiences will dramatically deepen the quality of your relationships and benefit you in the long run.
Eric Porat is a successful online entrepreneur, investor, and digital marketer with over 15 years of experience in buying and selling websites.
11 Ways to Build Solid, Lasting Business Relationships
There's only so much time to build nurturing, lasting business relationships. Don't wait until you need a partner, customer or favor to start reaching out.
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11 Ways to Build Solid, Strong, Lasting Business Relationships
Published: Jun 18, 2015 Last Updated: Dec 12, 2019 by Deborah Shane In Marketing Tips 16
478 859 Share on Flipboard 634 4 10 Email this Article
It takes a dedicated amount of time and energy to build good, strong, lasting business relationships today. They are such an integral and necessary part of success, but people don’t seem to want to put in the work.
Alert: lasting business relationships just don’t happen and develop without the dedicated, consistent work.
Our business network should be a qualified, selective group of people we count on, tap into and rely on for support, direction and insight. We have to find that balance of being givers and takers. We can’t just give or take, we need both. Far too many people don’t ask for help when they need it and that can be fatal in small business.
Selectivity, consistency and engagement are essential for finding great people and growing relationships with them.
Here are ways to build lasting business relationships in today’s professional world.
1. Be Authentic
This is pretty simple. Be who you are and accept others as they are. It’s easy to create a false persona, especially online, but that is not the way to start a relationship and short lived when we start qualifying people and companies. Find people and companies you feel a natural connection and ease of communication with and things you both have in common. The authenticity of connecting personality, beliefs and point of view can accelerate relationships.
2. Identify Shared Goals and Values
We seek out people in life we like, share similar goals and values with. Are they honest, kind, knowledgeable, helpful? How do they treat others? This is about moral character. Do we respect them? I have sadly seen too many people present themselves one way only to take advantage of people, once they have their trust. We may not always share the same point of view with everyone, but the shared values are a must.
3. Develop Mutual Respect
I find this takes time, unless someone is referred to you by a trusted connection. We prove ourselves over time and through different activities and experiences. Join a chamber, professional group, or online community which are all great environments to develop relationships. Be patient, selective and watch people in action. Building mutual respect is an essential for growing relationships.
4. Share Some Vulnerability
We are human and sometimes that means sharing and supporting people through difficulty, challenge and change. Showing our vulnerability is part of our authenticity. One word of caution: this is best shared with a select few rather than more publicly. Use good judgment here.
5. “I’ve Got Your Back”
Let people know that you have their back as a way of showing loyalty to them. I have been at way too many events where gossip and unnecessary conversations go down among people that simple shouldn’t be doing that. As tricky as this can be, I have selectively addressed certain people directly and respectfully asked them to reconsider those conversations and choose not to continue interacting with them.
6. Make Meaningful Connections for People to Network with Each Other
The greatest compliment in business is a referral. We should be thoughtful, have the right motives and be connecting people for the right reasons. Not all referrals work out. It takes two to make it happen and work, so don’t be doing all the work.
7. Get More Personal
If you really want to get to know people, ask them to go for coffee so that you can talk more personally, one on one. Be willing to share experiences, ideas, points of view and simply learn more about each other’s story, family and professional history.
8. Plan Something Fun to Do Together
All work and no play makes us dull! Be willing to go out and do something fun together that may not have anything to do with work. Music, art, entertainment, meet ups and community events are all fun things to do to see different sides of people. Not to mention some random and memorable conversations and laughs that can come out of it.
9. Let Go of Expectations
Always go into relationships with an open mind, realistic expectations and never assume. People are only who we think they are based on what our interactions have been with them. One of the best pieces of advice I got from a client was: accept the way people are not as you want them to be. If we have preconceived expectations of people, then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
10. Schedule Brainstorming Time
Block out dedicated time to brainstorm, engage and do business together. Best to set a regular time, a time limit and an agenda for what you want to accomplish in it. Leave some time unexpected discussion.
11. Offer Something Before Asking for Something
In 2010, Trendwatching.com came out with a trend brief that highlighted “serving is the new selling”. They put a name on what we were already knew was the trend shift in sales and marketing and now it is the norm in business, social media and content marketing.