“If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business.”
An essential part of business success is having a strong network. According to a Harvard study, 85% of professional success comes from people skills. Relationship building doesn’t just take the definition of meeting with new people but is defined as stepping out of one’s comfort zone to build sustainable professional and personal relationships. A good network balances its relationships because networking cannot be one-sided. Entrepreneurs are always seeking growth, a term measured by the number of contacts and the magnitude of information it can build in a business’ repository. Hence, it is important for leaders to reach out to their close networks regularly, ask them what they are up to and seek help when need be.
Any relationship, be it professional or personal, must be as open as possible. An open relationship encourages both parties to seek mutual help, make mistakes and learn from them, thus strengthening the relationship. Staying assertive about what is needed from the other party in the relationship avoids confusion and builds clarity.
Networking- A Skillset
Leaders must be able to read widely. They must be able to read people and design relationships with them. Networking becomes a skillset when one goes out of the office, meets new people and starts new conversations. Surprisingly, networks are formed from those people who are the last on our list. A strong network is not a diminishing resource. A properly maintained network can only multiply. Small business leaders must spend time to build strong networks with people who can be mentors in the future. These networks mean more than business.
A loyal customer can be a great source to build relationships. Customers express their gratitude and satisfaction with referrals that later grow into a strong network. Often times, a healthy relationship with one’s competitors is the most sustainable. Business competition can help with leads, intros, and new business opportunities in domains that the competition doesn’t specialize in.
The Trust Factor
Building trust is a critical factor in fostering quality business relationships. Businesses that put customer needs over an immediate sale, by referring them to a better fitting competitor are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy. Conducting business demo sessions at clients’ offices and offering free samples of work to clients and prospective business sources strengthens the trust factor. Building trust with customers happens through informal communication channels. Small businesses must be able to communicate with their customers informally in order to build close relationships and quickly understand customer needs and expectations.
The Importance of NO
The word NO is difficult to utter, yet becomes a powerful communication tool. Some relationships are good to be dissolved. Saying NO to a bad relationship is not bad. One must address the issue head-on, explain what is not working in the relationship and acknowledge the good times from the relationship.
Employees must always feel safe talking to their leaders about their thoughts and problems. Leaders must acknowledge the value of the conversations with their employees and keep a constant check on
employee needs, goals and long-term aspirations. Strong employee relationships result in a stronger circle of well-wishers for the organization. Studies show that employee engagement can lead to an 18% higher customer retention rate. Open communication is key to making employees feel valued.
Feuji understands the importance of its customers, as its organizational DNA is formed with customers at its core. I have been fortunate enough to have built long-lasting relationships with our customers and clients. Every employee at Feuji knows the seriousness of the work we do and acknowledges their mentors. Relationship building demands patience and consistent nurturing but gives back mentors, collaborators and advisors for a lifetime. It is important to acknowledge the journey of a relationship than holding an expectation for benefits at the end of a relationship because relationships teach us giving others like the way we want to take.
Here are some books on building relationships that last.
Give & Take by Adam Grant
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
Personality Plus at Work: How to Work Successfully with Anyone by Florence Littauer