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“To have a healthy and thriving business, there must be healthy relationships with the C.E.O.S. in the organization and I’m not referring to the Chief Executive Officers. I am talking about the Customers, the Employees, the Owner (or stockholders), and the Suppliers.” –James Hunter
Most nascent business owners will argue that the most essential resource they need to scale their business is more money to ‘pump’ into it. Whilst having more money to ‘pump in’ could be important to scale a business, building relationship in business is the most relevant resource needed for business success and must be intentionally cultivated.
Successful business owners, most especially those that have been in the business world for a long time know this simple but powerful secret. Hence, the reason for their outstanding success.
“It’s absolutely essential for a startup with limited time and resources to build business relationships,” said Alistair Dodds, co-founder and marketing director of EIC Marketing. If you ever see anyone running a business profitably, especially startup owners, they are knowingly or unknowingly engaging this vital law of building relationship in business.
The secret to a thriving business is people. Every entrepreneur should be passionate about building relationships in business in order to be profitable and/or remain profitable.
The secret to a thriving business is people. Successful businesses are built on relationships.
Building relationship in business is a vital law of business success. And just as being ignorant of the law of gravity is detrimental to the health of anyone trying to suspend in the air without being held by a rope or anything else that can aid the suspension, so also you will be doing your business a lot of harm if you neglect this law of building relationship in business.
Now, you may have never heard about how important building relationship in business is to a business or maybe you have heard about it but you want to know more about this indisputable law of business success – how it works, and many more. Well, guess what, I will be doing justice to that in this post, to equip you with the exact knowledge needed in building relationship in business successfully and sustainably.
Table of Contents
- 1 Importance of Business Relationships
- 1.1 1. Relationships Create Customer Loyalty
- 1.2 2. Business Relationship Can Provide Guidance In The Time of Need
- 1.3 3. Relationships Create a Superb Team
- 1.4 4. Relationships Help Promote Your Business
- 1.5 5. Business Relationships Create an Image
- 1.6 6. Business Relationships Keep You In Business—Even In Hard Times
- 2 Steps to Building A Business Relationship
- 3 How to Build Business Relationships With Customers
- 4 Levels of Relationship In Business
- 5 How to Re-Establish A Business Relationship
- 6 Skills Required to Build and Manage Business Relationships
Importance of Business Relationships
Now, I guess, for you to have clicked on this post you must be an entrepreneur, whether you are just starting out or you’ve been one for a long time, and you definitely want to get a good ROI (return on investment) for the time spent reading this post.
On my part, I understand how valuable you time is especially as an entrepreneur. So I had put in efforts to make the time spent on reading this worthwhile for you.
But before we delve into the benefits of business relationships let’s take a quick look at what business relationship is.
So, what is business relationship?
According to businessdictionary.com, it is an association between individuals or companies entered into for commercial purposes and sometimes formalized with legal contracts or agreements.
In addition to the above definition, business relationships could be formal or informal as long as it helps the business achieve its commercial goals. This include relationships with customers, vendors, potential customers,family and friends, banks, stockbrokers, the media, service providers, municipal, state, and federal government agencies.
Having discussed business relationships definition above, let’s get to know the importance of business relationships.
1. Relationships Create Customer Loyalty
Customers will always be careful of making purchases from a business they do not know or trust. They would be more willing to deal with a business they have a relationship with, so far the cost is not grievous for them. Some would even prefer to pay more for a brand they trust and are familiar with.
Trust and familiarity are bedrocks that can change the way your customers perceive your business. Once these two are in place, your customers will begin to see your business as a brand and not just another company around. And by building a strong relationship with your customers, you can help them to trust and know your brand. Never forget this!
You can’t always get everything right in business. There will be times when your client will misunderstand you or when you disappoint them. Another benefit that having a strong relationship with your clientele does is that it can encourage them to overlook certain customer service or product issues easily, knowing fully well that you will address whatever it is they are not satisfied with as much as you can.
2. Business Relationship Can Provide Guidance In The Time of Need
Warren Buffett says “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” And you know what, you don’t know it all and you can’t know it all. Therefore, there will come a time in your life when you have to make critical decisions in your business but lack what it takes to make this decision.
It is in crucial times like this that you need a senior colleague or anyone knowledgeable enough to guide you through and help you in making the right decision or give shape to what you have in mind already. Such a person can help you distinguish between the important and the urgent decisions that can move your business forward.
Business comes with a considerable amount of risk already, and now trying to be an “island of knowledge” running a business, adds unnecessary risks to your business.
3. Relationships Create a Superb Team
You need to be careful not to fall into the trap of getting carried away with trying to create positive relationships outside your organization, and neglect relationships within your business. It is also very important to have healthy and respectful relationships within your business. The atmosphere in your organization will automatically affect vital aspects of your business.
Therefore, building a strong and working connection with your employees as well as creating an atmosphere and culture conducive to help them work together successfully will increase their productivity, commitment to their jobs, morale, job satisfaction, and their contributions to the growth of your business.
Also, luring and keeping key talents will become easier.
So you need to learn to treat your employees with respect, appreciate them and applaud their successes (no matter how small). Your business is only as strong as the people–and the relationships–that support it.
4. Relationships Help Promote Your Business
You will agree with me that bad news spread quickly. People are quick to spread their dissatisfaction with a company but won’t hesitate either to refer their friends and family members to a business that they trust. And who doesn’t trust a word-of-mouth referral from their loved one(s)? Well, I will say no one.
You see, word-of-mouth marketing is a potent marketing method. When you build a relationship of trust and respect with your customers, employees, and other people connected to your business, they will market your business for you. They will talk about your business to their contacts and loved ones.
There is also the benefit of the business to business relationship. Ever heard of the saying “your friend is my friend”? This saying is true when it comes to business to business relationship. When you form a strategic partnership with other businesses, it helps both businesses to acquire important referrals that are key to their success.
5. Business Relationships Create an Image
The people who represent your company will have a positive or negative effect on potential customers. And I’m by no means referring to those who attend to customers and salespeople alone. Everyone working in/with your organization will have the same effect on potential customers.
Therefore, everyone representing your organization must practice customer relationships. Remember, every person your employee come in contact with on a daily basis, could be the customer you’ve been waiting for. The actions of those that represent your brand communicate a lot about your brand to your potential customers.
Come to think of it. Why do you think a popular brand like Nike will cut (or will consider cutting) ties with a popular athlete that showed a racist gesture? The answer is not far-fetched. It’s simply because the athlete is a face of the company. And they understand the negative effect that such an action could have on their brand.
Also, why do you think Nike decided to make the popular athlete a face of their brand in the first place? It’s because they know that the admiration people have for the athlete can be easily transferred to the company that he/she represents.
They know that it’s difficult to have warm and fuzzy feelings about a faceless organization. The good news though is that, through building relationships, you can have a human face for your organization– a face that customers can connect with and even become fond of.
6. Business Relationships Keep You In Business—Even In Hard Times
When the economy is not doing well, people—including your customers— are low on money. But if you have created a strong and working relationship with them before then, they will still do business with you no matter how little. This is because friendship will be the reason for the little business that will be done at such times.
Steps to Building A Business Relationship
“Building fruitful and lasting business relationships start with abandoning ‘me’ and say ‘we’” – Anonymous
Relationships don’t happen or grow on their own, neither do they sustain themselves. Friend, it takes a dedicated amount of time, resources, and energy to build GOOD, STRONG, LASTING business relationships.
Building relationship in business is hard work but not everyone is willing to put in the work.
Now, you don’t have to create a business relationship with everyone. You should only create a business relationship with people that matter to the success of your business – think of a qualified, selective group of people that you can count on, tap into and rely on for support, referrals, direction, and insight.
So here are some practical steps to building a business relationship.
1. Keep Up With People
Well, let’s start right from the basics. You need to keep up with people. Relationships don’t maintain themselves. You are going to have to maintain your relationships. The same way you do service your car you need to ‘service’ your relationships. This is a habit you must have.
Any business relationship you see thriving is thriving because the two parties involved have intentionally cultivated the habit of ‘servicing’ the relationship.
If you have not successfully maintained the relationships you have now maybe you don’t need fresh relationships yet. Why should someone you haven’t talk to for months jump at the chance of helping you when you finally reach out to them, only to ask for help.
Keep records of important relationships that you have and check in on them often. Keep your conversation going with your online contacts. Return calls or emails, use a task management system or calendar to remind you to call or write.
2. Be Authentic
Yeah! You heard me right. Be authentic! Be who you are and accept others as they are. Don’t falsify your persona or that of your business to make a new contact. Relationships built on falsity go nowhere – fast! Instead of misrepresenting yourself or business, look for people and companies you can naturally connect and easily communicate with and things you both have in common.
As time passes, you will realize that your shared personality, beliefs, and understanding is a natural boost to your relationship.
3. Build Mutual Respect
Mutual respect is the recognition that the other party has valuable contributions to make in a relationship. Be patient and accommodating enough to allow people to offer their value to you.
4. Identify Common Goals and Values
You should seek out people in life who like and share similar goals and values. You need to find out whether you are on the same page morally. You’ve taken a huge step towards having a successful business relationship if you put this into consideration before starting out.
Common goals will always align efforts and skill application in a business relationship. Having shared values provides a smooth path for the relationship to run.There may be times when you both have different views over a certain matter(s), that’s normal; but shared values are compulsory.
5. Get More Personal
Be personal in your business relationships. Showing sincere interest in others is an early step to gaining respect and building relationship in business. Show that you care and mean it from your heart. Let people know that you have their back.
You can ask them to go for coffee so that you can talk more personally. Do not hesitate to share experiences, ideas, and points of view, and simply learn more about each other’s story, family, and professional history.
Avoid doing all the talking. Listen to what they have to say and show sincere interest in what was shared with you.
Also, you need to avoid being pretentious in a relationship. No relationship can be sustained on pretense.
Be willing to show your vulnerability as well. You’re not a ‘superman!’. Showing your vulnerability is part of your authenticity. However, be careful about who you share your vulnerability with. Don’t go public with your vulnerability. I believe only those that have won your trust are qualified to know this side of you. Be wise.
6. Have a Givers Mentality and Not a Takers Mentality
It is more blessed to give than to receive, so give more than you receive. Business relationships aren’t a 50/50 deal. Each party should be willing to give more than they receive. You can give your time, knowledge, ideas, information, motivation, service, gifts, and share opportunities you think might be useful to the other party.
When you do this you are building the foundation for trust that is fundamental to relationships that thrive. This is how to build long-lasting relationships.
7. Let Go of Expectations
Always go into relationships neutrally. Don’t expect too much and never assume. Doing any of this is hazardous to your relationships. You don’t know someone until you have interacted with them enough.
You should also learn to accept people the way they are and not the way you want them to be. Protect yourself by not having preconceived expectations of people because if you fail to do so, you are setting up yourself for disappointment – and that can be grievous sometimes, depending on the circumstance.
Learn to forgive people in advance.
8. Work Hard
This is one of the proven ways to market yourself.People will always prioritize results over knowledge. Results have voices – they speak. Everyone wants to be a friend of someone with (consistent) results. Your results are your selling point. It will naturally attract people, however, you should be discerning enough to know those you should connect with. Always have it in mind that no one will invest where they think it’s not worth it, therefore you need to prove yourself worthy for people to invest in you. They want to be sure you will deliver as expected whenever they recommend you.
How to Build Business Relationships With Customers
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” –Sam Walton
Showing greater concerns for your current customers will save more costs than trying to look for new ones. Therefore as a business owner, it is important to make every effort to get customer loyalty and pursue building relationships that will last long with them. Discussed below are some tips on how to build business relationships with customers.
• Provide Great Service
Ensure to encourage and empower your employees to treat customers well. This is because they interact with them more than you do. More so, it would be easier for your employees to prioritize satisfying customers if they are treated well and motivated.
In a survey taking by squareup.com, they revealed that the customers that were spoken to said customer service is the most important reason why they keep patronizing a business. “They treat each customer as if they were family,” one customer said. And another: “You are not paying for a product, you are paying for an experience.”
As an important element of a thriving business and personal relationships, communication is a vital way to build a relationship with your customers. Don’t just promote your business alone, lend a listening ear to your customers. Know their needs and meet those needs.
Train your employees on how to effectively communicate with customers – request for timely follow-up of customers, meet the needs of customers, returning of voicemail messages, and emails promptly. Let them know the importance of all this to the business and how it affects them as well.
• Exceed Customers Expectations
This is pretty straight forward. Meet the expectations of your customers but don’t stop there, exceed their expectations. Someone once said this – “Under promise, and over-deliver”- concerning dealing with customer expectations. Customers are happy when they can get a product or service faster than they anticipated. That’s an hundred dollar advice.
• Request For Feedback
Feedback from customers are important for your business growth. And mind you, negative comments are as powerful as positive ones. Positive customer feedback reveals to you what you are doing well and negative feedback let you know what you need to improve on. There is always room for improvement whether you are a start-up or a well-established business.
You can get feedback by placing comment cards on your business counter or conduct a survey. Always listen carefully to comments and respond on time. And don’t just get feedback without addressing customer’s concerns.
• Show Appreciation
Appreciating your loyal customers is a sure customer relationship strategy. And there are so many ways to appreciate your loyal customers and make them feel special. One way is to reward them with discounts. You can also give out items, such as pens or notepads, or even more costly items, like shirts, hats, or jackets with your logo on it.
• Get Personal
Providing personalized customer service makes a huge difference. Be personal in your interaction with your customers. Sure, ultimately they came to buy what you are selling or the service you are offering, but people are people – even in business.
Your customer is first a person (or human) before a customer. Let them feel like they’re doing business with a human and not a business.
Here are some tips: use names – both yours and your customer’ – during an interaction, know each customer’s history with your business, learn more about your customers – get to know things about your customers (maybe outside of your business relationship with them).
• Keep in Touch
Technology has made it easier to be able to connect with your customers.There are many online tools and social media outlets at your fingertips to engage your customers
However, when you are engaging your clients online, avoid a one-way conversation. Ask customers questions, and respond to their questions.
You shouldn’t joke with having an online presence in this digital age. Cultivating client relationships through your online presence is very essential.
In business, a lack of customers results in no money. If buyers patronize your business just once and don’t again, well, that’s money for you short-term. I’m sure you do not want your business to be in either of these situations. If that is the case, I will implore you to make building a strong and long-lasting relationship with your customers a priority.
Levels of Relationship In Business
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” –
When it comes to business, relationships are everything. You can’t start a business alone. You can’t run a business successfully and sustainably alone. You need different categories of people such as customers, suppliers, partners, team members, investors.
However, you need to realize that not all relationships are the same. Below are the levels of relationship in business;
1. Relationship With Suppliers
Your relationship with suppliers plays an important role in determining how smooth your business will run. They are essential to your business’ good health and growth. Many business owners tend to make the mistake of relegating their relationship with suppliers. They even sometimes look for ways to exploit their suppliers.
You will agree with me that your business needs excellent and trustworthy suppliers, but finding one is not enough; maintaining such a relationship is what matters the most. The same way you work so hard to build a good relationship with your customers, do the same with your suppliers. It will benefit your business a lot.
Show loyalty to your good suppliers. They influence how far and well your business will go. The quality of your product or service is dependent on what you are supplied. Timeliness in the delivery of products by suppliers can help your business to be reliable.
2. Relationship With Customers
Building strong customer relations is a great way to turn a passive customer into a loyal customer and retain valuable, long-term customers. Alongside some other important factors, – such as quality of products, etc. -cultivating client relationships will ultimately determine the success of a business.
Today’s customers are not only interested in what you are selling but how you are selling it and what happens after you’ve sold it to them. This change in customer behavior has prompted businesses to invest in their customer service teams and meet the rise in customer demands.
According to Hubspot.com, “Customer relations describe the ways that a company will engage with its customers to improve the customer experience. Customer relations aims to create a mutually beneficial relationship with the customer that extends beyond the initial purchase.”
Customer relations is not only needed in the customer service department but in every department of a business. Therefore, every employee, irrespective of their department, should be skillful in customer relations.
3. Relationship With Others In Your Kind Of Business
A way to grow your business especially if you are new to the industry is to connect with other business owners in your industry.Creating a relationship with others in your kind of business is a great way to increase your professional network, gather new ideas, improve on your expertise, and obviously make new friends.
A good way to connect with them is to join any local or national organization within the industry and attend industry events (education classes, job fairs, etc).
There’s a whole lot of positives attached to building a relationship with others in your kind of business.
You can learn from them, be inspired by them, collaborate with them, and reach out to them when you’re looking for a new employee, or perhaps even looking for a new job yourself
4. Relationship With Up-Coming Stars
What do I mean by a relationship with up-coming stars? In one word, MENTORING.
If you are a successful business owner and you are reading this, surely, you would agree with me that being properly mentored has played a huge part in your success. And for your success to be sustainable, you have to still keep your connection with your mentor(s).
Now, you can’t continue loading yourself without creating room for more. You need to ‘dispense’ your experience. You can’t continue to make money without considering impact and leaving a legacy in your field.
What I’m I trying to say, you have been mentored, mentor those coming behind you. You see, one of the greatest investment – if not the greatest – you can make is an investment in people. You can make the journey smoother and maybe faster for young entrepreneurs through mentoring.
Having said all this, you need wisdom in your relationship with up-coming stars. Not all up-coming entrepreneurs are what investing in. Mentoring will cost you, it will cost you your time, it might cost you your resources, and not all up-coming stars are worthy of such an investment.
How to Re-Establish A Business Relationship
“Great things in business are never done by one person.”
– Steve Jobs
How to re-establish a business relationship is a very important subject. Why? Because in a relationship you won’t always be right. You won’t always please the other party and vice versa. There will be times that you both will offend each other.
So whether you are dealing with co-entrepreneurs, your superiors or subordinates, suppliers, partners, customers, your strong business relationships are essential for business success. And sometimes the wrong that was done might lead to a break of the relationship. But if after a while you both (or one party) sees a need to re-establish the relationship, how do you get things back on track?Here are some steps to guide you.
The longer you ignore relationship issues, the worse they tend to get, and the more difficult they are to resolve. Look the problem square in the eye and ask yourself a few questions.
Don’t ignore relationship problems. Ignoring does not solve the issues. In fact, the longer you ignore, the worse they tend to get and difficult to settle. So what do you do? Confront the problem in the eye. Ask yourself questions like;
What could have caused the damage?
What was/is your contribution to the situation?
What has the effect been?
What are the future effects, if the problem is not resolved?
• Picture The Future
What do you want this relationship to be like if conflicts are resolved? Do you want anything close to the way it was before? You don’t have to be close the way you were before. You can still work professionally together – being courteous, civil, and productive. However, since you want to settle things between you both, I think the least is that you both should be able to work together and get things done.
It is imperative that you take time out to know what you really want from the relationship. Have an idea of what could change when things are back to normal in the relationship, and what you are willing to do to make the relationship work.
Once you have the vision for the future relationship you want, it’s time to communicate that vision calmly and honestly with the other person. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you do so:
When you have a clear idea of what you want the relationship to be when things are settled, don’t hesitate to inform the other party about it in a calm and honest way. Consider the following when you do this:
Create an environment that can encourage both of you to talk freely. Make it a physical (one-on-one) conversation, if you can.
To make the conversation a priority and to discuss the main issue, ask to schedule a meeting.
Put your emotions aside as much as you can during the discussion. Don’t think about yourself alone. But focus on the positive effect resolving your conflicts will have on your business.
• Get Commitment
Make sure the other party is willing and ready to resolve the issues between both of you. Ask yourself, have you both come to agree on what you want going forward? Are your expectations for the relationship similar? And what must each do or not do to make the relationship get better?
It is important that the same level of commitment shown by you to improve your relationship is being reciprocated by the other party.This is when you can be sure of reconciliation.
Act on your commitments and do so consistently. Have it in your mind that this is a process of rebuilding trust and redesigning the relationship, so it won’t happen overnight. But, if you both are willing to put in the effort, surely, things will gradually improve.
• Be Proactive
Don’t just let your professional relationships take shape on their own. Don’t wait until problems come up to address these things. Be proactive about developing strong relationships early on.
The law of cause and effect can be put to use in your relationship. Be proactive and intentional about what happens in your relationships. This is how to build long-lasting relationships. Don’t leave your relationship to chance. Address any little issue before it escalates.
Make your intentions known by establishing appropriate rules of the relationship to help control your actions.
Also, set well-defined boundaries. Make it as simple and clear as possible. You shouldn’t blame others for ‘stepping on your toes’ if the boundaries have not been clearly stated.
Whenever you have a broken business relationship, you can re-establish such a relationship by following these steps discussed above.
Skills Required to Build and Manage Business Relationships
Building relationship in business takes a lot of effort and accompanying those efforts are certain skills that must be developed. These skills are a combination of different soft skills. Discussed below are some soft skills required to build and manage business relationships.
• Interpersonal Skills
To build strong and successful relationships, you need to develop interpersonal skills. This is because, relationships are centered on people.
Some examples of interpersonal skills are active listening, teamwork, responsibility, dependability, leadership,respectfulness, motivation, flexibility, patience, empathy.
• Non-Verbal Communication Skills
Non-verbal communication cues—the way you listen, look, move, and react— will affect how you build a relationship with others.To become a better communicator, you need to become more sensitive to the body language and nonverbal cues of others and your own.
• Verbal Communication Skills
Skillsyouneed.com defines “Verbal communication as any communication that uses words to share information with others. These words may be both spoken and written.”
Verbal communication skills are essential in relationship building. You should know what to say and when to talk. You should learn to communicate your thoughts clearly. Be polite and abide by some basic rules of etiquette when communicating.
• Listening Skills
How will you feel if you are talking and you are not being listened to? You surely will feel bad and maybe disrespected depending on the circumstance. Therefore, it’s important to listen to others also whenever they are talking to you. Don’t always talk, listen as well. And try to do this sincerely.
Active listening is an integral part of communication. And it comprises of making eye contact, being mindful of non-verbal cues, and asking questions that confirm you are part of the conversation.
• Networking Skills
Networking skills are critical in creating and maintaining professional or social contacts. They are essential skills required to build and manage business relationships, that business owners must develop.
Some important networking skills you should have to network effectively are communication, active listening, social skills, public speaking skills, nonverbal communication, interpersonal skills, empathy, positivity, humor, focus.
• Team Building Skills
The ability to work as part of a team is valuable skill that employees and even business owners should possess.To work successfully with a team, your communication skills, relationship building skills must be top-notch.
At this point, I believe you now know and understand the dynamics of building relationship in business and the amazing benefits that come with it. You should know full well now, that you can’t separate success in business from relationships because business are built on relationships – relationships with employees, suppliers, mentors, other business owners, etc.
As a business owner who desires the prosperity of his business, you should take time to read this post over and over again, to practice all that has been discussed about building relationship in business.
Everything discussed in this post is not only meant for business owners. As an employee in an organization, you are in business for the organization you work for. Therefore, you need all that I have shared to succeed at what you do because as much as you know how to do your job, you should know how to build relationships.
I’l like to get feedback from you about this post, in case you have a contribution to improving it.
I wish you success!