By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars
An integral part of your success in the business arena lies in the personal relationships you forge with your colleagues. Building better relationships with individual associates enriches your career and can open new doors. Studies find that over 90 percent of employers view soft skills as a vital requirement when hiring new employees. Here are four easy tips to cultivate meaningful business relationships.
DEVELOPING NEW BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
Whenever you meet someone new, it’s important to make a good first impression. You never know who you're going to meet — dress to impress, regardless of the venue. The goal is to instantly create a favorable impression as soon as a potential new business relationship sees you. To show your confidence, introduce yourself first — don’t be bashful. A firm handshake is crucial and reflects confidence. Before the conversation concludes, exchange contact information, like your email and phone number.
The next day, send a follow up email. This note should always include a greeting and appreciation of the previous meeting, a personal reminder or tidbit about something that pertained to your initial contact, and a conclusion with the potential of an informal meeting or meet up for coffee. Professionalism and personality are key. As time goes on, you'll recognize the contacts that are useful and the ones that are not. For the less used contacts, it's important to touch base from time-to-time — you never know when their particular expertise or sphere of influence will prove helpful.
DIVERSIFY YOUR CONNECTIONS
Although it might not seem like cultivating relationships with people outside of your field is an effective way to move up in the professional world, thinking outside the box can be more useful than you think — stay curious! You never know when a casual acquaintance in the medical field will open up doors for you in the tech industry. There's no point in having a diverse pool of connections if you don’t take advantage and capitalize on them.
It’s important to reflect and consider what you need most and how to utilize your acquaintances effectively. If you know what you need counsel in your career, you can be realistic about the ways in which others can be of benefit to you — it's okay to ask for help! If you're someone who has trouble asking for assistance, consider this guide to help seek out guidance at work. Lastly, always remember to show appreciation for others time and actions. Sometimes the best way to show your appreciation is to go out of your way to return the favor. The natural ebb and flow of reciprocal favors, advice and council is the very definition of a productive business relationship.
THINK LONG TERM
A business relationship might not produce any leads or opportunities in the next week, month, or even year — great relationships take time. Even though you might be not able to see the potential gains of a particular business relationship, continue to do the small things to maintain and nurture these relationships. Proving your value to a colleague can take time.
It’s hard to determine when you might need someone's assistance — assume you'll need their help in the near future. Don’t ghost a colleague and then try to rekindle the connection just because you need something from them. While keeping up with so many business relationships can require a great deal of effort and may feel ineffective, give more than you take! Offer help and assistance to your colleagues whenever an appropriate opportunity arises. This way, whenever your colleague is scanning his or her brain for an appropriate referral for their client, you're top of mind.
Business relationships are not supposed to be one-sided — it’s important to know when to stop pursuing the relationship. Successful networking means that two people are engaged in a mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationship. Know when you're valued, when you're being used, and when you're being blown off. Sometimes, pursuit of a business connection must be abandoned, making room for new and possibly more successful connections to be added to your already busy calendar.
Always remember that when creating new relationships — or when leveraging existing ones — search for people who share your goals and values. Identify business contacts you look up to and seek to learn the tips and tricks of the trade. Also, look for business contacts who are where you've been — mentoring is an incredibly valuable business practice that can enrich both parties. It’s also worth noting the difference between networking with colleagues and building relationships with individuals that have the potential to advance your career.