Have you ever met someone at a networking event that you felt really good about? You had great rapport and seemed to really understand each other. You saw the similarities in your businesses and how you could collaborate with each other in some awesome way.
You both seemed to have similar goals, and you were really looking forward to discussing things further. Then a month later, you find their business card under the seat of your car, and you remember that you all never touched base after the initial meeting. Or even worse, you exchanged a few emails and calls, excitedly exclaimed that you would keep in touch only to drift off.
Building Business Relationships
No matter what stage your business is in, building business relationships is an important component to growth. In fact, a stunning amount of business is done through referrals, and while you can get referrals though your clients, you’d be missing a great opportunity if you didn’t see building a network an alternative method.
The way to build a strong network is to build relationships, there is no way around it. And when you do it right, it can be a fun way to connect with people and grow your business at the same time.
But how do you do this when everyone is so busy? How do you keep those initial connections going?
6 Ways to Build Strong Business Relationships
It’s easy with the hustle and bustle of running a business to become a recluse. I know i’m guilty of doing this. I get so focused on creating content, changing my branding and working on technical things that I forget about making those connections and keeping them going.
In 2018, I have made an effort to change that and i’m already seeing progress, all I had to do was change a few small things. If you are struggling with this, here are a few things I do that have helped me that may be a benefit to you as well!
See People as People, Not Dollar Signs
Have you ever been standing in line at the grocery store, and the person next to you strikes up a conversation? They talk to you about the weather, or their dog—they seem friendly enough. In an overly digitized world, you feel happy to connect with someone real, even if it is in this small way. Just as you are about to walk away content, they hit you with the sales pitch.
Nothing is more off putting than a person pretending to genuinely like you, only to find out that they just want to sell you something.
Don’t be like that.
The first step to building business relationships is seeing people as people. You don’t have to sell yourself to every chance you get. This includes networking events! Just talk, let people know how you can help, and let a genuine connection arise.
Make People Part Of Your Business
Building business relationships will require you to incorporate people into it. But not in the way you may think. I don’t mean just hiring people (even though building the right team is important). What I mean is, understanding that none of us are going to be able to make our vision a reality on our own. We need people, and people need us! If we understand that fundamental point, then we’ll have or priorities in the right place.
“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work”- Robert Kiyosaki
A lot of people make the mistake of starting a conversation by telling people what you do and how well you do it. What your title is, how many trophies you’ve won, etc etc—people don’t care about that.
Sure, you may get a ‘wow’ out of someone for your accolades, but that’s not really what people want to know about you. What they really want to know is what you can do for them or their clients. When you go to networking events, instead of introducing yourself by listing off your accolades, tell people how you help your clients. That will probably make more if an impact.
It’s also more memorable to think about how someone can help you versus what they’ve achieved. So when you reach out to them after that initial meeting, it’s more likely they will actually remember you and you won’t be lost in the shuffle.
I have a goal to follow up with anyone that shows interest in working with me. I would definitely suggest this to you if you are interested in building business relationships. But I have to say in my experience, there is a technique to doing this so that you do not come across spammy.
I have seen people saying that a great way to connect is to add people to your newsletter, this way you can keep people up to date with what you are doing. I do not think this is a bad idea per se, but there are a few things to consider. First obvious thing, the person may not want to be on your newsletter.
Typically, newsletters are used to update people that opted in for that information. Just putting someone on your newsletter that you met once or maybe twice doesn’t seem like the most effective move. It may be easier for you, because you don’t have to craft an email specifically for them. But I think when you are building business relationships (key word being relationship) you want to create a genuine connection with someone.
Instead of throwing them on your newsletter, shoot them an email you specifically crafted for them. Here is where the tricky part comes in. There is a fine line between selling yourself and building business relationships. I think the best way to do this is to focus on them.
Try giving a brief description of your name and how you met, then ask them what they are working on. Even further, if you are hoping to work with this person in the future, come up with an idea that you think they may be interested in and include that. I think this will create a stronger connection and generate a better response than just opting in the person into your newsletter.
If you really do want to share something about yourself try linking to your most recent work or something you are excited about that you are doing. Just don’t lead with it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a networking event and handed out my card, only to get 10-15 emails the following Monday of people’s NEWSLETTERS! I generally unsubscribe right away, because I did not ask for that. Isn’t it a little strange to say, “Hey, you probably want to know what i’m doing, here you go!”
Now, as far as the frequency of emails. I will leave that up to you. I would suggest quality over quantity when it comes to how many you send.
Connect on Social Media
Of course there has to be a social media strategy here! Almost anyone that is trying to grow their business has some sort of social media (hopefully). In order to connect with people, talk to them on social media! Engage in their posts, more often than not they will come over to your social media posts and engage back. There are tons of success stories of people connecting online and turning that into a strong business relationship! This is also a great way to create buzz on your own social media accounts. The idea here is to keep showing up in their life, the more times they see you the more likely they will remember you and you will stay in the front of their mind.
Help them For No Reason
I believe in the power of giving, in a practical and philosophical way. In the practical sense, when you give something of value to someone, they will remember you for it (even if it’s only for a short amount of time). In the philosophical sense, I believe that putting good out into the world will illicit a positive response.
Building business relationships, in a lot of ways are just like building any relationship. In order to keep it healthy and it good standing, you should always be looking to give. If you see someone seeking help in your area of expertise, and you think you can help, do it! Share posts, help someone spread the word about their event. Whatever you can do.
If You are Invited Somewhere, Go!
I am preaching to the choir on this. I can’t tell you how many times I have been invited to things in the past and I didn’t go. It’s embarrassing. I always had valid reasons for not going, but that’s not the point.
It’s hard to establish familiarity if they don’t see you! In real life. I know that we live in a post social media world, and we think we can get a pass because we liked their instagram post or shared a tweet. But I’d wager that, we should be looking to take our relationships offline espeically in this social media ridden world. Honestly, nothing trumps real life interaction. So if you are invited somewhere by a business connect, and it fits within your schedule/finances. Go!!
And if you see a cool event that might benefit you and someone else, invite them! Always keep the doors of communication open.
It’s tricky sometimes to keep business connections going after you have made that initial connection. Hopefully these tips will help you as you go out there and meet new people!
Let’s Have A Chat!
What are some tips you can offer to create genuine connections with other people?