“Building Relationships – The True Gems in Business”
by Trina Newby

I came to understand the true meaning and value of a business relationship over 10 years ago after spending thousands of dollars in traditional advertisements with little return. This is not to say that traditional advertising is wrong – I just didn’t have the money to do it! I then realized that without the funds to do consistent traditional advertising,  I had to develop business relationships that would provide referrals, as well as resources.

Once I started meeting with other business owners one-on-one I discovered that no advertisement or marketing plan in the world could beat the true value of developing a business relationship that involves trust, value and the willingness to share and refer.

How many times have you heard the saying, “the diamonds are in your own backyard”?  You know it’s really true!  After evaluating where my business leads came from, it was either through a referral or from a relationship that I had developed.

Yes, develop a good business relationship and just like the brilliance of a diamond, it will shine throughout your business in the form of referrals and profit.  The true source of new business prospects and profit really is just a relationship away!

So, the big question is if this sounds simple and your business can grow from developing relationships, why isn’t it being done more amongst micro and small business owners?  The answer is simple – it’s because we don’t always understand the true value and benefits of developing a business relationship.

When a small business owner first starts their business they are in what I call their dream stage.  They have a tendency to mock what they think or see a successful business as being, but lack the true understanding of why it is being done.  Therefore, most small business owners get business cards, create flyers or brochures and wait for the business to come – as though the mere existence of their business will have customers begging for their product or service.  Unfortunately, that’s just not true. 

This same thinking pattern is also transferred into the networking scene. Business owners go to countless business meetings and events and throw their business cards around as though they were playing some high-powered poker game.  Then they leave and wait for the business to come.  However, they soon learn that it doesn’t come and they blame it on the networking meeting instead of the fact that they didn’t do anything to develop new relationships.

The following is a list of tips that you’ll be able to put to use immediately in getting your share of diamonds (business relationships.)  Let’s get started!

Know how to build a solid business relationship
Just passing out your business card won’t do!  After receiving contact information be the first to call the individual for a second introduction.  Ask for a meeting over coffee or lunch to learn more about how you can help each other.  This is the first powerful step in creating a relationship that could turn successful for both parties, because you will have each other’s undivided attention without the distraction of others.  What more can you ask for? It’s the perfect situation.  Now, all you have to do is to nurture the relationship and learn how you can help the other person.  This will take time and many conversations with them.

After the first meeting send a thank you letter along with some suggestions on how you can help each other.  Be aware that they might not need your services or products right away, but that’s okay because you are in this for the long haul right?

Next, make sure you have a way to keep in front of your contacts.  This could be in the way of an e-newsletter, monthly mail out or just by giving them a call monthly or bi-monthly.  Also remember to index them properly in your Rolodex or contact management system.  This way you can refer new and existing contacts to them as the need arises.

Be there early
Make it a habit to be on time to your networking and one-on-one meetings.  Being early has so many advantages.  Arriving late for a one-on-one meeting can give the wrong impression and if you’re meeting with someone who is a stickler for time – you’ve messed up!

Be willing to give
Three important steps in building a solid business relationship is 1) to show a genuine interest in the other person’s business 2) be willing to listen and 3) be willing to give as much as you receive.

A one-ended relationship will give you a one-ended result!  If your only reason for developing a relationship with someone is to get business from them or always receive referrals – you still don’t understand what a business relationship is!

If you meet someone and you’re not impressed or have a good feeling about what they do or if it conflicts with your values – don’t push the relationship!  It’s not worth the business if you go against your values.

If you decide that this person is someone that you would be interested in developing a relationship with then you must be willing to give that person referrals, make suggestions and even shown concern about the well-being of their business.  From time to time you might even want to send them newspaper or magazine clippings, or email articles that might be of interest to them. 

Follow-up and Trust
“Say what you mean and mean what you say”.  If you have made a promise to provide information, a proposal, referral or other resources, P-L-E-A-S-E do so!  Not doing so can cause a lack of trust and set you back in developing the relationship.

Great conversation and excitement while networking can cause you to talk about a new company service or product or promise a resource before it’s ready to be given. In other words, many business owners have a habit of “putting the cart before the horse” and promising information or resources that are not yet ready or available to them and then they forget what they promised.  This is bad business.  If necessary, bite your tongue before you make promises you can’t fill. 

Commit to developing at least 3 new relationships per week
It’s difficult to determine how many new relationships to develop weekly, however, you must have a measuring tool or else you won’t achieve your goals.  If you go to at least one networking event per week, you’ll have plenty of people to talk to and to discover whether or not they are compatible with you.

Find your diamonds!
Remember, it takes time to build trust and develop a true and real business relationship.  Don’t rush it and most of all don’t think you have to go far to do it.

Now, go back through your Rolodex or contact database, look at the business cards laying around in your office, go back through your local community papers, look at the phone calls or emails you forget to respond to and you’ll find your diamonds – I bet you’re richer than you think!

About the Author
Trina Newby is a Business Consultant and Success Coach. She is also the CEO and Founder of Women About Biz. Visit today at  http://www.womenaboutbiz.net/.

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