How to Build Better Business Relationships

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming. But great business relationships last a lifetime.”

Richard Branson

In my frequent encounters with new and intriguing individuals, I’ve learned the importance of building better business relationships.

I collect business cards like they’re going out of fashion, a habit that inspired the creation of Contactzilla. While keeping track of business contacts is crucial, ensuring effective communication to maintain these connections is equally important.

Most professionals recommend touching base regularly by phone as a key component of nurturing these relationships. However, for many, the idea of regular calls can be daunting, making it challenging to form strong professional bonds.

Here’s some of my favourite tips to build better business relationships simply and naturally…

Tip: Read this blog post for help with organizing your business contacts

Stay in touch and listen on social networks

A person building better business relationships by logging into Linkedin on their phone.

Social networks are great places to start or join conversations with new contacts. Make sure to connect with and follow new contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter/X and/or Facebook.

Here’s how to leverage social media effectively:

  1. Establish a presence: Create business profiles on social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to connect with customers, industry professionals, and potential partners.
  2. Engage and share relevant content: Share industry insights, success stories, and relevant content to demonstrate your expertise and engage with your audience. Encourage interaction, respond to comments, and participate in industry discussions to build relationships.
  3. Networking events: Utilize social media to find networking events, both online and offline, to connect with like-minded professionals, potential customers, and partners. Leverage event hashtags, join relevant groups, and reach out to attendees to build relationships.

Startup investor and business mentor Thom Holland believes that social media platforms are also the perfect place to really listen to, and get to know, your contacts.

“As with any relationship, building better business relationships requires that you listen more than you speak. Good relationship builders use social media as a way to listen more than they speak.”

Thom Holland

Give more than you take

Business writer and entrepreneur Neil Fogarty told Virgin.com that he’s sick of people he doesn’t know asking him for favours without bothering to build a relationship with him…

“I am contacted weekly by people (strangers) and, within the first sentence, they ask me to introduce them to Richard Branson. Seriously, weekly! No hello; no explanation as to why just introduce me to Richard Branson. Am I likely to help?”

Neil Fogarty

Only getting in touch when you need a favour is a sure-fire way to annoy your new contacts. Fogarty suggests that you should offer your contact something before asking them for a favour.

Try giving your contacts free advice and refer them to others who can help when you can’t. Responding to queries they post on social networks is a great way to do this. Your contacts will be much more likely to remember you if you’re helpful, and much more likely to respond to your requests in the future.

Let them know when something reminds you of them

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If you’re apprehensive about phoning or emailing just to say hi, why not drop your contacts a quick email when you see something that reminds you of them?

Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born To Sell swears by it in this article for Inc

“When I see interesting news stories I forward them to people who I think would find them relevant… I’ve had many recipients come up to me later and say things like, ‘I can’t believe you remembered that I wanted to go to Thailand.’ It takes less than 30 minutes each morning to send out a handful of these. Do it every day and the care and feeding of your network will be alive and well.”

Mike Scanlin

News stories and blog posts are great for this. For example, if your contact is looking for funding and you see a news story about a new, local funding competition, why not drop them an email to let them know about it?

Seeking Advice from Contacts

Whatever your business contacts do, don’t forget that they are also experts in their field. Mike Fishbein, author of Customer Development for Entrepreneurs believes that asking your contacts for their advice will make them feel good about themselves…

“Because people tend to be busy, make sure you always have a reason to meet. If you don’t, you can still stay in touch remotely. Ask a quick question over email. People will feel complimented that you’re viewing them as an expert and will be happy to provide advice.”

Mike Fishbein

Continued Relationship Building and networking – Top tips

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To continue building strong relationships, businesses should employ proactive strategies and embrace ongoing relationship development. Here are some strategies for continued relationship building:

  1. Networking events: Attend industry conferences, trade shows, and networking events to meet new contacts, strengthen existing relationships, and stay informed about industry trends and opportunities.
  2. Regular outreach: Maintain regular contact with customers, contacts, and partners through personalized emails, phone calls, or social media interactions. Stay top-of-mind and demonstrate your commitment to the relationship.
  3. Continuous improvement: Actively seek feedback from customers, stakeholders, and contacts to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes. Embrace an attitude of continuous development and evolution.
  4. Thought leadership content: Share valuable content, insights, and thought leadership to position yourself as an industry expert and build credibility. Leverage content marketing, blog posts, or webinars to provide value to your contacts.
  5. Collaboration opportunities: Look for opportunities to collaborate, co-create, or partner with contacts who share similar goals or target audiences. Collaborative projects can deepen relationships, expand your network, and drive mutual success.
  6. By employing proactive strategies, businesses can continue building strong relationships, staying relevant, and fostering long-term success.

Conclusion

Successful business relationship building hinges on consistent, authentic engagement. Prioritize listening and adding value on social media platforms, offer assistance before seeking favors, and personalize your interactions, whether it’s sharing relevant news or seeking advice. Nurturing connections is about about continuous improvement, sharing expertise, and seeking collaborative opportunities. Adopt these strategies to maintain vibrant, mutually beneficial business relationships that contribute to long-term success.

FAQ’s

What makes a great business relationship?

A great business relationship is built on mutual respect, trust, and open communication. It thrives on consistent collaboration, shared goals, and a commitment to understand and add value to each other’s business, fostering long-term growth and success.

What are the common mistakes people make when trying to build business relationships?

Common mistakes in building business relationships include over-promising and under-delivering, failing to listen actively, neglecting follow-up, not respecting boundaries, and prioritizing short-term gains over long-term trust and collaboration.

What are the Best books on building business relationships

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie – This classic book provides timeless strategies on understanding human nature and building meaningful connections with others.
  2. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” by Keith Ferrazzi – Ferrazzi emphasizes the importance of networking and building relationships as the key to professional success, offering practical advice and real-world examples.
  3. “The Relationship Engine: Connecting with the People Who Power Your Business” by Ed Wallace – This book focuses on turning contacts into advocates through the development of personal credibility and trust.
  4. “Networking Is Not Working: Stop Collecting Business Cards and Start Making Meaningful Connections” by Derek Coburn – Coburn offers a modern take on networking that focuses on quality over quantity, encouraging deeper and more meaningful business interactions.
  5. “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success” by Adam Grant – Adam Grant explores how success today is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others, advocating for a focus on giving as a path to personal and professional success.

How can companies build strong relationships with business customers?

Companies can build strong relationships with business customers by regularly communicating through personalized emails and calls, offering practical support before asking for favors, and engaging actively on social media platforms. Hosting networking events and sharing useful content also strengthen these connections, ensuring mutual benefits and long-term partnerships.

What are the 5 steps of building a business relationship

  1. Identify Needs: Understand and respect your partner’s business goals.
  2. Communicate Regularly: Engage through emails, calls, and social media.
  3. Provide Value: Offer useful advice or resources first.
  4. Establish Trust: Demonstrate reliability and ethical behavior consistently.
  5. Solicit Feedback: Actively seek and apply feedback to enhance the relationship.

Introducing Contactzilla

Our contact management platform provides everything you need to organize your contacts and sync across devices.

  1. Seamless contact syncing across devices for your business.
  2. Organize and share business contacts with members of your team.
  3. Use tagging and custom fields to better control your contacts.
  4. Import contacts from anywhere you keep them.
  5. Great value and transparent pricing that grows with your business

Sign up for a FREE trial!