6 Ways To Build Business Relationships Through Communication was originally published on Firsthand.
For entrepreneurs, building relationships is essential for long-term growth, profitability, and sustainability. And to build relationships—with customers, employees, vendors, and investors—good communication is key. So here are six tips on how to communicate better to improve your business partnerships.
This sounds like a bad thing, but it's not. You should never be afraid to communicate too much. Keeping your partners and contacts informed is critical to a healthy business relationship. Regular status updates and reports in your projects or other collaborations will save your partners time with respect to asking for updates, and help assure them that you're working with their best interests at heart.
Perhaps most important, this approach will keep the element of surprise out of the equation. You'd want your vendors to let you know ASAP if there was a supply issue or some delivery block, so make sure to let all your partners know what's happening at your end, too.
Healthy communication is critical to mishap management. It keeps problems under wraps before they balloon out of control. This will give your partners confidence that you'll let them know if and when a problem arises in the future, which will improve trust overall in the relationship and pave the way for future deep collaboration.
2. Keep Your Commitments
Being true to your word will go a long way towards building trust between you and your partners. If you say you'll deliver something by a given date, you need to get it done by then. People will take note of this sort of commitment to your work. Once partners and customers know you'll meet your deadlines, they'll realize that you're worth working with in the long run. It also helps to build a little bit of goodwill in case of any other mishaps or mixups on your end.
As a general rule, do the best job you can all the time. That way, your partners will be more accommodating when stuff does fall through the cracks (because it happens to the best of us!).
Honesty in business relationships is perhaps the most important principle you can have. If you stay honest with your communication and dealings, you'll earn trust more than through any other factor. Clients, vendors, and employees will be able to tell if you're attempting to twist the truth. They may not know what the truth is, but it's fairly easy to tell when someone is weaseling out of something.
More important, once someone gets a negative vibe about you and your business, it's almost impossible to change their mind.
By the same logic, don't be afraid to tell someone, “I don't know.” Don't hem and haw, just be honest and direct. People will appreciate your honesty in these situations, even if you aren't telling them good news, particularly if you follow up quickly with a promise to find an answer to whatever questions or concerns they have. That said, don't make a habit of saying, “I don't know,” either!
4. Keep in Touch
If you don't nurture your business relationships, they'll dry up just like any other relationships. If you're always at the forefront of someone's mind, they're much more likely to think of you when new opportunities arise.
Remember: Social media isn't just for scrolling. Social media tools can make it incredibly easy to stay in touch, even if you're just sharing posts and commenting. All told, just make a point of keeping yourself on the radar of as many people as possible, and not only will you maintain your existing relationships, but new partnerships and opportunities will start to come your way.
5. Share Share Share!
It's worth noting that no one likes a resource hog. In a healthy partnership or relationship, both parties should share their knowledge and resources. For example, loss prevention and asset protection are extremely important for many businesses. If your brand specializes in security products, you'll give even greater benefit to your clients and partners if you share your expertise and know-how in business security techniques, regardless of whether or not the simple act of sharing that knowledge leads to a sale.
6. The Personal Touch
A business relationship that exists completely on text messages, Slack, and email will never be as secure as one that’s based on face-to-face interaction (of course, these days, that means masking up and keeping socially distant while interacting). Look for as many opportunities as possible to meet your partners in person, whether socially at a coffee shop or golf course, or at some sort of trade event in your industry. Face time is more beneficial than you know. These experiences will dramatically deepen the quality of your relationships and benefit you in the long run.
Eric Porat is a successful online entrepreneur, investor, and digital marketer with over 15 years of experience in buying and selling websites.