In the professional world, relationships can be a make-or-break factor. Great relationships can make it easier to close deals, handle problems, and collaborate on projects. Whether you're a manager or an executive, you must put time and energy into building lasting business relationships; short-term work can have significant payoffs in the long run.
When you're focused on the day-to-day running of a business, it's easy to forget about developing business relationships. Those relationships are crucial, however, whether you're dealing with clients, vendors, or colleagues. When you have a strong rapport with business contacts, it can help you through tough times.
For people in management positions, communication is the first step in building better business relationships. The basis of a relationship is forged through communication: asking questions, making conversation, and finding out about a person in both personal and professional capacities. Along the way, take notes. That way, you'll be more likely to remember crucial details that will affect business decisions.
Although communication is one of the most basic business skills, you must learn to use it at the right times. In many cases, listening is just as important—if not more important—than speaking. By knowing when to listen and when to speak up, you can find out a great deal of information that will be helpful in negotiating tricky conversations down the road. It is also important to solicit honest feedback. Doing so will encourage two-way communication and create a safe space for the other person to air grievances or ask questions.
Great business relationships take work, even after you have established a foundation. For many professionals, it is easy to let strong relationships lapse without realizing. To ensure that you maintain a connection with your contacts, check in regularly. With clients, ask about business and find out if you can offer suggestions or advice. With vendors, check in to find out about new products. By making the effort to keep the lines of communication open, you can avoid alienating people or negating the work you spent building a relationship.
According to the ERE Recruiting Community, acceptance is a crucial part of building strong business relationships. When it comes to your colleagues, accept the things you can't change about them: communication style, individual quirks, and specific beliefs. Although acceptance is not commonly thought of as one of the major business skills, it can smooth rough spots and lead to better business relationships.
Whether you are just starting out in a company or you want to strengthen your existing business relationships, it is crucial to pay attention to the people you deal with at work. By taking time to listen and maintaining regular contact, you can create strong, lasting relationships that will make it easier to conduct business.
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