Every business relationship should be about connecting and the "exchange of good energy" How you feel around the people you are with should tell you if this connection is valuable and should continue, or if it drains you and needs to stop. Make sure you are being fed…not used or fed upon. To build this kind of relationship you need to ensure that you likewise are feeding your network...not using them and feeding upon them solely to get ahead.
There's a lot of competition when starting a business. Everyone
seems to be out for themselves and it seems like you have to cheat and scam and "exaggerate" (okay - lie!) to get ahead. But that is exactly the opposite of what you should be doing. Building strong, mutually supportive and beneficial relationships is the key to business success.
Notice I said strong, mutually supportive and beneficial. You cannot build relationships by going to every networking event in town and handing out your business card to 100 people whose name you won't remember 10 minutes from now. Nor is it joining every online networking site and blasting all of your friends with SPAM.
How do you build strong business relationships? Follow these steps:
1. Show interest in others. Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations to get discussions started. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Being genuinely interested in others will earn you respect and attention in return.
2. Share what you know. When you become known as an expert and one who is willing to share that knowledge, people will turn to you for information and they will tell others about you. This keeps you visible to them.
3. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that.
4. Don't join groups or social networking sites solely to get referrals/followers. If you do not have an genuine interest in the group or it's members, you will find it difficult to establish relationships with others.
5. Keep in touch. Do favors for your contacts whenever possible. Be genuinely grateful for any assistance they provide and be sure to acknowledge it with a card, a call, or even a gift.
6. Make sure you understand what your contacts do for a living - and yes, make sure they understand your business. Otherwise, how will you send each other referrals?
7. Participate - whether in person or by posting on the online networks. As I said when I started this post, it's all about building trust and good energy. Do that and the rest will fall into place.