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Strengthening Business Relationships: 4 Pillars to Success

February 14, 2017
Thought Leadership
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Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity to remind us to let the people we care about know how much they mean to us. Our spouses and partners, kids and parents, and our closest circles of friends each get a special nod of appreciation on Valentine’s Day. It’s great to show them that we want them in our lives.

Who Else?

In business, our relationships are defined a little differently. We’ve got our closest ones there, the team we work with day to day. But it doesn’t end there. Others are crucial to our success as well.

Business Partners

Referrals are the lifeblood of most businesses. Those connections, the companies and individuals that take time to the time to funnel us customers are invaluable.With some companies, it’s their purpose. Review websites and trade publications easily come to mind for me. They share information with the public noting the features of our products and highlight our differentiators. The companies behind the sites, and the people who take the time to write reviews, each play a role in helping people make decisions that propel companies into being more efficient, more organized, and more engaged.Other business partners with complimentary services, also make recommendations and information available to their clients. They’re respected and trusted and their recommendations are taken into consideration. Whether it’s a commission-based referral or one made as a courtesy, everyone can benefit.Suppliers and SpecialistsIf you create your own products and services for the market, you need other companies supporting you with their inventory and know-how. From those who sell and deliver our copy paper to experts who guide us through tricky legal language. We need them to create and vend our products and services.

Prospects and Customers

I’d be remiss to leave out mentioning our customers as being relationships that we need to recognize and cultivate. We each know that without them, our businesses wouldn’t be in business and that they will benefit from using our products.There’s also the notion of internal customers that has been around for years. Striving to continue to keep strong relationships with our coworkers increases morale and develops better products.

Building and Sustaining Relationships

When building and strengthening our relationships, keep the following in mind:

  • Mutual Respect - Every relationship should be approached with an understanding of the other party’s role. The qualities, products, and functions that transpire flow much more fluidly when we recognize it as a mutually beneficial relationship. Condescending attitudes are transparent and won’t gain you any ground in the long run.
  • Assumptions and Expectations - Acknowledging and documenting assumptions can prevent most misunderstandings. We need to be on the same page with one another.
  • The Big Picture - Despite all preparation and intent, mishaps will happen from time to time. Lunch plans need to be canceled, wrong parts will get delivered. Focus on the big picture and overall relationship to get through these times. Once the logistics of managing the situation have been handled each party in a relationship should step back and collect their thoughts to determine if this is a one-off situation or a pattern. Was it careless, systemic, or reparable? Don’t be quick to judge.
  • Opinions and Contributions - Ask for and value the opinions of those you work with. If a beta tester gives you feedback, let them know that you appreciate their input. Go beyond and let them know the disposition of their comments. Were they evaluated and corrected? Will they be on the future-enhancement wish list?

Relationships are the foundation of our businesses. Nurture and respect them to ensure that they’re as strong and healthy as possible.

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