“It’s not personal, it’s business.” Or is it?
Building strong relationships is essential to the success of your business. And the key to a successful business relationship is to make it personal.
Think about your last networking event. Were you so busy handing out business cards that you failed to make a genuine connection with anyone? It’s easy to focus on quantity in these situations, but aiming to get your name in as many hands as possible means you miss the opportunity to create any lasting impressions—or remember anyone yourself. The good news: It’s never too late to start building strong business relationships.
Here are three easy steps for moving beyond the business card shuffle:
- Making the Contact: Act Locally, Think Globally. Take advantage of networking opportunities in your own backyard by joining community organizations, like a local non-profit or Chamber of Commerce. Join an organization outside your professional field to make contacts you would not normally meet at industry business functions, but can prove helpful in the long run. Once you start a relationship with these individuals in person, connect with them online through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. An online connection also opens you up to your contact’s social networks, instantly expanding yours.
- Building the Relationship: Keep it Personal. After an interview, meeting or pitch proposal, we all send the obligatory “thank you” email. Stop typing and pick up the phone. Yes, reaching out by phone can be intimidating, but this isn’t a cold call; it’s an opportunity to build a more personal relationship with your contact. A conversation can convey humor, excitement and interest – all emotions that are more easily communicated over the phone than through email, using cheesy emoticons. Really want to impress a client? Follow up by sending a card, too.
- Solidifying the Bond: Build Personal Currency. Whether it’s a colleague or client, take the time to understand his or her challenges, passions and interests—and then use your business expertise to help in these areas. Providing assistance while expecting nothing in return builds personal currency, the strongest bond in a business relationship.