I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review titled 5 Steps to Building Great Business Relationships The article began with a story of personal reflection about business relationships the author had experienced and the key elements to the ones that were the most meaningful. He then shared the following 5 steps that I find to be absolutely spot on. These are key points that I share with audiences and clients about building business relationships that support and sustain you.
First, and somewhat obviously, they must like you. You can’t move very far in any relationship without this basic prerequisite. Being likable or not seems binary, but there are ways to make yourself more likable. You can also go about specifically trying to accomplish getting people to like you more. Go out of your way to be friendly and helpful.
Second, they must respect you professionally. They must look with admiration at how you do your work, how you behave, and how treat others. Specifically, are you competent? Are you professional? Do you follow up? Are you among the best at what you do? Work hard at getting them to respect you.
Third, they need to admire your “whole person”—not just who you are at work. This only happens as your relationship begins to migrate outside the workplace. Maybe you’ll attend a ballgame together, or go to a concert or dinner, often one on one. You’ll spend quality time learning about each other. Over time, as you get to know people better, other aspects of their life become part of the conversation. Are you active in church or charity? Do you volunteer? If you have children, how much time do you spend with them? Are you living a life worthy of others’ respect? Once this step has been accomplished, the other person will be genuinely happy and interested to hear of your success and accomplishments. There will be no resentment or jealously.
Fourth, your lives start to mingle more deeply. As this happens, it becomes natural to invite spouses, significant others, and children to your out of office interactions–things like cookouts, hikes, boating, etc. You’re spending quality time together really getting to know each other—and a friendship is really budding. At this stage, not only are they happy for your success, but they are willing to actively contribute to it. They may provide a job reference, invite you to an important conference, or set up a meeting with a peer of theirs at another company. At your initiative, they burn some political capital, happily, to help you out.
Fifth, you maintain the intensity of the relationship, over time, even after the business relationship is no longer necessary. Consistency and longevity are key. This is where lots of people fall off—once the business benefit disappears, they can’t “find time,” and the relationship fades away. After all the work they put in the relationship, just as it’s about to becomes the most valuable, they turn the dial down or off.
Good relationships and trust are the lubricants of a successful career and a well-rounded life. But it’s important not to pursue relationships cynically. Just as you need to get people to like you, these relationships are only really worth pursuing with people you genuinely like. There are enough people out there that are really likable to not have to fake it.
I invite you to share this with your sales team. At 30 Second Success we offer online courses designed to help you gain a better understanding of who your ideal clients are and where to find the, teach you how to craft your 30 second message that truly connects with your audience, and coach you on building strong relationships through maximizing your network. Register for our online courses today or schedule a call to learn more about our live workshops and coaching.