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Building Business Relationships 101

Relationships are everywhere in the business world. You form relationships with your superiors, subordinates, peers, clients, customers, etc. It’s important to know how to create and maintain these relationships over time to contribute to your success. Let’s go through the steps of creating a healthy business relationship.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals

What are you looking to get out of this relationship? What is your current goal for the relationship? What would you like to get out of it in the future? These are all important questions to ask when forming a business relationship. You need to go into the relationship with intent, otherwise, the partnership may lack ambition. Set a purpose and keep that in mind during your communications.

Step 2: Understand Their Boundaries and Communication Style

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to communication. For example, some people may prefer to communicate over email, while others might prefer to talk over the phone. At the beginning of the relationship, figure out what the other party’s communication style is and try to follow that. This can be done through observation, or by simply asking them. With this, also be mindful and respectful of their boundaries. Some people might like it if you called them with any concerns, whereas others may see it as an interruption to their day, and may not appreciate it.

Step 3: Be Respectful

No one is going to want to be in a business relationship with someone who doesn’t respect them. Even if the partnership is between professionals at different levels, don’t think of yourself as “better” than the other person. A partnership is mutual, and you need each other's expertise to succeed. Even if you begin to feel upset or frustrated at points, always speak to the other person respectfully and be kinder than necessary.

Step 4: Build Trust

The key to having a successful business relationship is trust. In the business world, you are forming these relationships to complete a certain task or goal, so you need to depend on these partnerships to get you across the finish line. Build trust in your relationship by having strong communication and following through with your commitments.

Step 5: Maintain the Relationship

Give the relationship more meaning by maintaining it over time. After the relationship has served its purpose, stay connected through LinkedIn and check in with them every once in a while over email or text. This way, you’ll have a better chance of being able to work with them again in the future. This also puts you in a great position to form more business relationships. If you’re able to keep a positive relationship with colleagues and business partners over time, they’ll be more likely to speak of you kindly and refer you to others.

Expert Bonus Tip: How to Deal with Differences

When facing differences, remember that it is both of you against the problem, not both of you against each other. If they have a different opinion than you, listen to what they have to say. The last thing you want is to have the “you’re wrong, I’m right,” mindset, so don’t be stubborn and unwilling to hear them out. Compromise is key when in a business relationship. Not everything will go exactly your way, but with compromise, both parties can end up satisfied.


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