When it comes to building a business, having the right product or service is only part of the equation. The less tangible, but arguably more important, piece is fostering and growing strong relationships.
There are two places that this comes into play. First, building solid relationships with your customers makes them more likely to pay more or return again and again for your product or services. As one data point to illustrate this, 86 percent of customers surveyed said they were willing to pay more for a good customer experience.
Second, a strong network among your peers ensures you have a place to turn for questions or business advice. It also creates a potential channel for references for new hires or business partnerships. Both of these types of relationships aren’t formed overnight. They need to be carefully cultivated and nurtured over time to receive the full potential of their benefits.
Planting strong relationship roots
Relationship building comes naturally to some and can be a challenge for others. However, it’s a skill that any business owner can work on as part of their overall personal and company growth plan.
Here are some basic things to consider as keys to success for building solid relationships:
- Trust is key. Both with customers and in your network, trust and honesty are paramount to building a robust and genuine relationship. In addition to words, that means also delivering on promises and admitting when you made a mistake.
- Give not take. While it’s easy to receive the benefits, it’s essential to give your relationship counterpart value. To customers, that might mean providing a valuable service or offering. In contrast, it might mean making a critical introduction or assisting in solving a difficult challenge to your network.
- Celebrate success. One of the simplest things you can do is celebrate success. Did someone in your network get a promotion? Give them a call or shoot them an email congratulating them on their achievement! A little goes a long way when it comes to appreciation and celebration.
- Be genuine. In every relationship, it’s important to be yourself. People will respond to getting to build a relationship with the real you.
While one-to-one relationships are essential, it’s generally best practice to engage your business with the community. Volunteering at a charity event, contributing to a local cause, or engaging with your Chamber of Commerce are all excellent places to consider starting. While the current pandemic may make many of these in-person events difficult, it’s still possible to contribute visually with your community or plan to engage when it is safe to do so.
A lifelong focus
It’s one thing to build a relationship, and it’s another to keep it for the long term. Like a friendship, a business relationship or networking connection only survives when nurtured and maintained over time with effort and intention. If you do, the payoff will be well worth the effort as you see your business and personal relationships grow.