We’ve all heard that to be successful we need to build good, strong, lasting business relationships.

Lasting business relationships just don’t happen without dedicated and consistent work. Building any relationship is like tending to a garden. It takes a lot of patience, nurturing and intention.

Our business network should be a qualified, selective group of people we count on and rely on for support, direction, and ideas. We need to both give and receive with our business network.

Here are a number of tips and networking thoughts on how to build better business relationships:

  • Be authentic.  Be who you are and accept others as they are. Be willing to share experiences, ideas, and perspectives — simply learn more about each other’s story. People buy from people so let them know you.
  • Identify shared values. Seek out people who share similar values. If your values are honesty, loyalty, trust, being ethical, kindness– do they share them? We may not always share the same point of view with everyone, but shared values are essential to be able to work together.
  • Develop mutual trust.  This one definitely takes time. Building mutual trust is essential for growing relationships. This can be helped by….
  • Be a giver.  When we educate, help, and inspire others with our experience and expertise, we are building the foundation for the trust that underlies relationships that endure. Serving and helping builds trust like nothing else. Trust is the one ingredient that builds strong, long-lasting business relationships.
  • Make connections. Link together people so that they can meaningfully network with each other. Of course, be thoughtful, have the right motives, and connect people for the right reasons.
  • Have fun!!  Be willing to go out and do something fun that may not have anything to do with work. Socialise with people – this helps you see the real person and not just their business persona!
  • Be open minded.  Always go into relationships with an open mind and realistic expectations. You may be disappointed if you expect certain things from people.
  • Be vulnerable. We are all human, and sometimes that means sharing and supporting people through difficulties, challenges, and change. Showing vulnerability is part of revealing your true authentic self but use good judgement – probably best shared with a select few rather than announced to the world.
  • Exchange ideas / brainstorm – have meetings but make sure they have a time frame and an agenda.
  • Not all networking events and groups are the same. Each group has its own culture, format, and benefits. You need to try things to find the right fit, what suits your character and what meets your business requirements.
  • Most successful networkers attend multiple groups and strive for a blended strategy of in-person, on-line and social networking – the new networking normal.
  • Networking is not just about attending the events but its about the follow up as this is where the magic happens. Will you get clients / make sales from just networking – maybe, but networking as we all know is a slow-burner and is about relationships first, sales (potentially) next.
  • The value of networking lies in strong relationship-building from the inner centre outwards AND in the networks that sit behind the people you meet.
  • Even if you met/were introduced to someone ages ago, it is never to late to follow up. Prompt follow up is ideal, but we all get busy.
  • Online (zoom) networking is impersonal / boring / repetitive and can’t work. With the right format, online networking does work and let’s face it – it is here to stay.
  • Not everyone networks for the same reason and is prospecting. Networking is more about farming than hunting.
  • Listen first. Speak next. Adapt what you say. Silent is an anagram of Listen!
  • Other networkers, even experienced ones, get nervous or uncomfortable at times talking to strangers and/or presenting.
  • Networking is not about confident, extrovert behaviour, it’s about skillset, strategy, being human AND finding the right balance between feeling comfortable and being comfortably uncomfortable.
  • Networking begins with respect and equality, so we are at a level playing field, regardless of title, company name, career history etc. Imposter syndrome to be left at the door!

DISCLAIMER

So,  while these are some tips of what I aim for when building relationships, I have failed at almost all of these, if not all of these, at some point.

So, if you’re reading this and, you are thinking – “Hey. She doesn’t do that in my experience!”

I’m sorry. I most certainly have made mistakes, but I am doing my best and that’s all any of us can do.

I’m a network and business relationship builder and Circle Networks champion.