What’s one thing every business owner needs to thrive? Relationships. Behind every healthy company is a network of business relationships. Those relationships provide support to the business owner as well as much-needed advice and ideas. In some cases, relationships support the day-to-day operations of a company and provide financial support to it.
You can divide your company’s business relationships into four major categories: those you have with your customers, those you have with your employees, those you have with consultants or vendors and those you have with your business partners. Here’s how to go about building relationships and what you can do to resolve any signs of strain or stress.
Network Far and Wide
The first step to building relationships is to network. People often assume that networking means meeting and greeting others in their industry. Connecting with people in your industry is part of the process, but not the whole thing. To build up a web of connections, it’s important to network far and wide. Attend events that aren’t focused solely on your industry to increase the likelihood of meeting a wider variety of people.
The wider your network, the more likely you are to connect with interesting people who have a lot to offer. For example, if you’re only going to industry events and you’re looking to meet an attorney or a virtual CFO, your options will be limited. But once you start going to events that are open to all or that are designed with a specific goal in mind, your odds of meeting a more diverse pool of people increases.
When networking, you don’t have to focus purely on business events. You can meet people at social events, too. For example, you might find your company’s next designer or next CMO at benefit for a local museum or at a fundraiser for a local non-profit.
Focus on What You Have to Offer
Relationships are a two-way street, and while you most likely want to get something from the people you’re connecting with, it’s also important that you bring something to the table to offer them, as well. What you have to give depends in large part on the type of relationship you’re building. In the case of a relationship with customers, what you have to give is a product or service that will solve one of their problems. You can take things a step further and reach out to customers to see what you can offer them to make their lives even easier.
In the case of employees, your company can have a lot to offer. Yes, you pay their salary and provide them with the means to live. But the relationship should ideally go deeper than that. Focus on what you can offer your team members to help them grow, such as courses or training sessions. The same is true for your business partners. What can you give them that will make their lives easier or help them grow?
Finally, focus on what you can offer to vendors and outside consultants. You’re offering them your business, but what can you do to deepen the relationship? One option might be to recommend their services or products to others. Another is to provide a testimonial that they can use in their marketing.
While it’s important to have some boundaries when it comes to the people you interact with regularly, it’s also important to take the time to get to know others on a somewhat personal level. Finding out small details about your customers, employees and vendors can help you develop real connections with them. How a person feels when they visit the local coffee shop and the barista remembers their order and asks about their family is a lot different from how they feel when they go to a chain coffee shop and the barista knows nothing about them. Gather little bits of information about the people you interact with regularly and use that information to strengthen the bonds you have with them.
Know When to Restore Relationships
Finally, there might come a time when a relationship becomes strained. A customer might feel that their needs aren’t being met, an employee might feel constantly criticized by a manager or a vendor might be upset because your company paid late. If there’s a problem with any type of business relationship, the first thing to do is uncover the source of the difficulty, then work together to come up with ways to patch things up.
At New Direction Capital, we understand the importance of building and maintaining relationships. We believe that the better we know our clients, the better the outcomes we’ll be able to deliver to them. To learn more about our virtual CFOs and how we’ll work with you, contact us today.