Four Ways To Strengthen Relationships With Your Business Owner Friends
If you were to ask any leading salesperson what the key to their success entails, you would probably hear a variety of strategies for many industries. But the one thing they all likely share is an appreciation for building solid, genuine relationships with their customers. Business guru Zig Ziglar once said, “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they'll do business with you.”
If you want to develop strong relationships with your business owner friends, here are four ways to strengthen those contacts.
1. Don’t just talk shop – listen, too.
Encourage business owners to be open about their struggles or new processes. “Take time to learn about their business since it's as important to them as your business is to you,” Darren Dahl, Inc. contributing editor, wrote.
This can help you better understand their needs, share encouragement or offer feedback from an outsider’s perspective. Should an opportunity arise where your services can offer solutions to their dilemmas, the relationship is already in place. The unique advantage of relationship-based business practices is that the person is the primary focus. This establishes a trusting environment where candid concerns are discussed. And what you hear can make all of the difference in moving forward.
2. Maintain consistent contact.
Time flies when you are focused on building contacts. So when you come around to an early contact that you haven’t spoken to in a while, don’t be surprised if the reception is a tad chilly.
A client can be surprisingly suspicious when a consistent relationship isn’t maintained. “Devise a system to ensure that not too much time passes before you connect with your contacts,” business consultant Michael Denisoff says. By doing this, you can avoid those uncomfortable moments when a client wants to know why the only time they hear from you is when you need something. A simple rotation system is an effective way to monitor regular contacts. Once a contact is made, refer to your schedule or calendar and immediately jot down a date for a future follow up. Sometimes, it’s as simple as sending a birthday card to maintain friendly relations.
3. Be someone they like and respect.
As Harvard Business Review contributor Jim Dougherty wrote, people "need to admire your ‘whole person’ — not just who you are at work.” When you schedule to meet, spend that time learning about them. Do they have any hobbies or interests? Encourage them to talk about their family. Do they follow a favorite sports team? By expanding the relationship to include topics outside of work, you are building a trusting relationship that will sustain a mutual benefit for both parties.
Common interests are a solid base on which to customize a contact routine. For example, if sports is the common link, your visits can coincide with home games or inspire an easy “thinking of you” gift like golf balls or tees. Occasionally, I have received a thoughtful email with a link to an article that reminded my friend of me. I appreciate those efforts because it shows me that not only does my friend know me, he also understands what I do.
“Once this step has been accomplished, the other person will be genuinely happy and interested to hear of your success and accomplishments,” Dougherty wrote. And you can count on a long-term business relationship as well as a lasting friendship.
4. Help them find opportunities that benefit you both.
As the entrepreneurial dreams of those you know take shape, opportunities can arise from all corners of the map. Taking the time to understand the nature of their work and the challenges they face can help you better identify solutions. Helping them find ways to succeed not only tightens the bond you’ve created but always comes back in the form of open doors.
Although there are many stigmas with getting your friends involved with multi-level marketing, the concept is sound. The idea is to set something up where you can benefit from making your friends' lives more profitable, especially if your passions align. If you both wear and love makeup, how perfect would it be to bond over brush and eyeliner while making a profit? If you’re both business owners, maybe you can share the digital processing service. The goal is to help one another and the rewards are mutual.
“The very nature of business should be structured around the mutual success of your professional relationships,” Wayne Hamilton, CEO of National Processing, told me.
The impact of business relationships has long been recognized and utilized as an effective business tool for growth. By maintaining consistent, positive and receptive contact, and offering opportunities that are mutually beneficial, you can enjoy a promising and profitable avenue for personal and professional opportunities.