5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Relationships are one of the most important things in business. You don’t build a successful business alone. You have advisors, mentors, colleagues, clients, and audience members who work in concert with you to help you reach your goals to make a difference in the world. When you’re in the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day business operations and the stress of building a legacy, it can be easy to forget that your relationships need your attention too.
Here are three ways to develop business relationships, keep them at the forefront and manage them.
Initial rapport can be built quickly. The key is to listen more than you talk and prioritize the other person ahead of your desires. Business relationships are similar to friendships and romantic relationships in the way that other business owners want to build real connections with people they like. They should be approached the same way.
For example, when you meet a new potential business connection at a networking event, you don’t want to talk about yourself and how great your business is. The assumption is if you weren’t great, you wouldn’t be in the room. Instead, you want to approach these potential connections with a curiosity and eagerness to understand them better.
It’s this frame of mind that will allow you to ask the right questions and listen deeply to other people so that the conversation can naturally flow. When this happens, you allow the other person to truly connect with you, which often leads the conversation back to how you can help one another in business.
You don’t need to put pressure on figuring out how someone can help you grow your business. You’ll find that out organically in the conversation when approaching others specifically to build rapport and get to know them.
Related: How to Build Rapport With Customers Online
Play the long game
Too often, business owners lose sight of the long-term goal in favor of the quick fix or instant gratification. However, if you can remember to play the long game, you’ll get much further ahead. One way to do this is to intentionally connect with the people you’ve developed relationships with regularly.
Set aside time in your calendar to reach out to your top 10 contacts and touch base every week. See how they’re doing, ask how their family is, and find out what’s been going on in their world. If you see an opportunity to lend a helping hand or a listening ear, extend an offer of support so that they know you have their back.
To be clear, this is a free offer of support. In the words of Jay Fiset, you want to play the game of “I’ll go first” so that you enact the law of reciprocity. When you show up regularly for your connections, they’re more likely to do the same for you.
Likewise, set aside time every other week to check in with your other contacts. Life moves quickly, and check-ins take less time than you think. But if you prioritize connecting with these people, you become a trusted staple in their lives, and you stay top of mind for referrals and other possible connections.
Related: Why Progressive Leaders Focus On Playing the Long-Game
Create trusted partnerships
Once you’ve established trust and respect with people who also serve your audience, it’s natural to form joint venture partnerships. This is where you and the other person find a way to promote each other’s offers or refer business to one another. You only do this with people you trust, people you believe in, and people who you know can provide immense value to your audience.
This can lead to massive growth depending on the number of joint venture partners you build, their audiences’ size, and the quality of engagement they have with their audiences. Likewise, joint venture partners allow you to refer your audience and clients to other business owners that you know provide high-quality solutions that you don’t provide to your audience. This allows you to be of higher service without putting more work on your plate or going outside of your expertise. Joint venture partnerships give you the power to stay in your lane while directing your audience to the next stop on their journey with someone you believe in and trust.
Related: Want More Referrals? Here Are The Best Ways to Earn Them
Keep in mind …
It can be a lonely road building a business. When you make your business relationships a priority, you build a network of support that you can lean on and become emotionally invested in your success. This helps you create an all-around win for the other person, both of your audiences, as well as yourself.