In the era of customer experience is king, building successful business relationships is key. Some people are naturally gifted in this art and some are not. We are all different, which is what makes the world an interesting place. There’s no reason to feel badly about yourself if you don’t already have relationship building skills honed to a fine point. We can’t all be ace at everything. (For example, don’t ask me to file your taxes. Orange is definitely not my best color and I doubt it’s yours) Relationship building skills can be learned.
So, what are the 3 steps you can take to build outrageously successful business relationships?
1. Ask. Be intensely curious about people. Ask a lot of questions about what they do, what they like to do, what success looks like for them, what their challenges and problems are. Ask what they enjoy most and least about their work. People love to talk about themselves, so this is easier than you might think. Their answers will give you insight to what they care about and the problems you (or someone you know) may be able to help them solve.
2. Listen. Have you ever tried the experiment of listening more than you speak in a conversation? If you have, did the person you were “talking” with say, “You are so easy to talk to”? If not, try it out sometime. The results can be a fascinating illustration of how much people value sharing and feeling heard. It’s not a bad thing that we like focusing on our own experiences and telling others about them. It’s a human thing. When you’re building relationships with humans, understanding this quality is invaluable. We are wired to connect and share our thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences with people.
3. Reconnect. Once you’ve met someone, discovered what they value and established some raport by asking and listening, the most important step is to follow-up with them. Staying connected is how you’ll nurture and build this relationship, so call or email with a brief message about how much you enjoyed talking with them and that you’d like to stay in touch. Mention something specific they talked about. Ask what social media they prefer and connect with them on those channels. LinkedIn is a given for most professionals, but find out if they like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest also. Most people have a couple of go-to channels they like. Click here for some sample follow-up emails.
You now have a platform for nurturing that new business relationship. Repost things they post, make comments (positive and insightful, never negative) and make sure you do it within the first week, and then every couple of weeks after that.
For more tips on ways to ramp your success, have a look at “Three Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do First Thing in the Morning”.