6 Tips for Building Better Business Relationships

Good business relationships don't happen by accident, they take hard work and intentionality. Here are six tips to consider to help build strong business relationships in your community.

6  Tips for Building Better Business Relationships

Photo: John Hafner

Relationships matter — not just in your personal life, but in your business life, too. To start with the obvious point, long-term relationships with your customers can help sustain your business well into the future, helping you garner more referrals and repeat business. But you also need good relationships with vendors and suppliers, which can potentially help you get better deals and save some money. It’s even worth it to pursue collegial relationships with your competitors, allowing you to develop a positive reputation within your industry.

Of course, good relationships don’t happen by accident. They come about only through hard work and intentionality. The question is: What can you do to build strong business relationships in your community? Here are six tips to consider.

1. Encourage feedback

One of the first steps toward improving your business relationships is to ask people how you’re doing. This can be as simple as sending out a customer survey or reaching out to your vendors for a check-in. Make it clear that you really value feedback, even if it's critical, and want to implement that feedback to improve your efforts.

2. Learn how to listen

Another important reminder for any relationship is that you’ve got to listen more than you talk. When interacting with clients, slow your sales pitch long enough to hear what they actually need and what kinds of solutions they’re actually looking for. Show that you’re invested in helping, not just self-promoting.

3. Be consistent

It’s hard to have relationships if you never actually interact with people. Develop a consistent routine of reaching out. Send former customers emails every few months, reminding them you’re there and perhaps offering some special promos. Make a recurring Google Calendar event to check in with your vendors or other business partners, perhaps with a simple LinkedIn message.

4. Practice honesty

Honesty really is the best policy, not just ethically, but pragmatically. Don’t hesitate to tell customers that you don’t have an immediate answer to their query but can research it and get back to them. Be similarly forthcoming with vendors or contractors. Develop a reputation for being a “what you see is what you get” kind of business operator.

5. Keep records

When customers or business associates express particular needs, preferences or desires, they generally expect you to remember it. It’s not a bad idea to keep notes about the people you interact with regularly, helping to jog your memory before each new conversation. When you keep notes about the people you talk with, it can help you to better personalize your interactions and to show them you actually care.

6. Own your mistakes

All of us mess up sometimes, but what can you do when you mess up a big project? Don’t shirk responsibility. Instead, own up to it. Admit the error, apologize, and offer a proactive approach for making things right. This tends to really impress people and can actually be a good way to turn a blunder into an opportunity for building trust.

These are just a few pointers to keep in mind as you think about cultivating important, mutually beneficial business relationships. Remember, those relationships may be the key for your long-term business growth.


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