Here are a handful of ways to build lasting business relationships:
1. Be authentic. Be who you are and accept others as they are. Find people and companies you feel a natural connection with, are easy to communicate with, and you have things in common with.
2. Identify shared goals and values. Seek out people who share similar goals and values. Are they honest, knowledgeable and helpful? How do they treat others? We may not always share the same point of view with everyone, but shared values are a must.
3. Develop mutual respect. This one definitely takes some time. We prove ourselves over time and through different activities and experiences. Be patient and selective, and watch people in action. Building mutual respect is essential for growing relationships.
4. Don’t be afraid to get vulnerable. We are all human, and sometimes that means sharing and supporting people through difficulties, challenges and change. Showing vulnerability is part of revealing your authentic self, but use good judgment — this is best shared with a select few rather than publicly.
5. Demonstrate loyalty. Show people you have their back by not partaking in gossip or unnecessary conversations.
6. Make connections. Link together people so that they can meaningfully network with one another. Of course, be thoughtful, have the right motives, and connect people for the right reasons.
When we educate, help and inspire others with our experience and expertise, we are building the foundation for the trust that underlies relationships that endure.
7. Get more personal. Find opportunities for one-on-one conversations. Be willing to share experiences, ideas and perspectives — simply learn more about each other’s story.
8. Don’t forget to have fun. Be willing to go out and do something fun that may not have anything to do with work. This will allow you to see different sides of people and hopefully to have some memorable conversations.
9. Calibrate your expectations. Always go into relationships with an open mind and realistic expectations. Never assume. If we have preconceived expectations of people, then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
10. Brainstorm. Be sure to find time to brainstorm, engage and do business together. However, be sure to set time limits and have an agenda for what you want to accomplish.
11. Be a giver first. When we educate, help and inspire others with our experience and expertise, we are building the foundation for the trust that underlies relationships that endure. Serving and helping builds trust like nothing else. Trust is the one ingredient that builds strong, long-lasting business relationships.
Our business network should be a qualified, selective group of people we count on and rely on for support, direction and insight. But we can’t just give or take, we need both. Selectivity, consistency, engagement and balance are essential for finding great people and growing relationships that become mutually beneficial.