17 Essentials for Building Strong Business Relationships

Having a network of strong business relationships is essential for a healthy, agile enterprise. Every business needs to build relationships with people across the whole range of prospective business contacts, including customers, workers, investors, vendors, peer operators, other kinds of companies in the community, government representatives, and others. Fortunately, for business leaders looking to build strong relationships, their power sweeping enterprises need, the necessary basic business relationship-building skills listed below can be learned.
If the importance of good business relationships needs further emphasis, consider that research by Harvard University, in conjunction with the Stanford Research Center and the Carnegie Foundation has concluded that around 85% of success in business appears to be due to people skills. (See the Additional Resources section below for the research link.) So, let’s look at what good business relationships look like, and how to go about building those for your commercial pavement sweeping company.

What are the Signs of a Good Business Relationship?

A business relationship is an involvement that should be mutually beneficial to the parties over time. There are some recognizable characteristics of good, sustainable business relationships:
• Mutual Respect — Both parties value each other’s ideas, wisdom, and input. You can work together effectively to determine creative solutions based on your combined insights.
• Mutual Trust — You work together well because you can communicate openly and honestly share your thoughts, and energy is not wasted worrying about the other’s trustworthiness.
• Mutual Care — Both of you take responsibility for your actions and words. You’re both careful with your comments and avoid letting negative emotions from impacting one another.
• Mutual Openness — You communicate with each other freely, and you prioritize building a stronger relationship by consistently offering each other open and frank discussion.
• Mutual Receptivity — You are both open to opinions that differ from your own. You take time to listen to each other and carefully consider what the other says in making the relevant decisions.

17 Ways to Build Strong Business Relationships

Fortunately, mere willingness to meet new people and engage in reciprocally helpful relationships with them is all you need to launch your process of business relationship building. Of course, there are some basic soft skills, listed below, which you’ll need to help you successfully form and sustain lasting relationships with your new contacts.
Here are 17 ways to make the most of your opportunities to establish and cultivate mutually beneficial internal and external business relationships for your commercial power sweeping service:

1. Foster Reciprocity.

All good relationships are balanced in give-and-take. Helping others get what they need and want nurtures people’s will to be helpful too. So, nurture reciprocity in information sharing, providing resources, and other kinds of help. For example, when someone tells you about a challenge they’re facing, try to think of who you know that is most likely to be able and willing to help them. Build your relationships with people whom you can expect to do the same for you.

2. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Take time to do some reading on EI, the ability to identify and understand what emotions (your own and others’) are communicating to you. Increasing your EI enables you to recognize the emotional and other factors that shape their thinking, including their deeply held values, desires, and concerns, and it helps you find common ground on which to build relationships.

3. Develop Empathy.

In addition to understanding the emotional drivers of other people (as discussed above in #2 on EI), you need the ability to understand the challenges they face, to appreciate their positions and situations as you strive to develop mutually helpful relationships with them. Especially for your employees, helping them feel supported is essential for building mutually beneficial long-term working relationships.

4. Recognize Your Needs in the Relationship.

Clearly define your pavement maintenance company’s need(s) in the business relationship you want to establish. Likewise, do you understand what the other person needs from you? These needs should be as well defined as possible, to build the most mutually productive and beneficial relationship possible.

5. Ask Straightforwardly for What You Want.

Overcome shyness about asking clearly for what you want, to avoid leaving people stuck guessing. For example, it may feel too difficult to ask for funding. But, obscuring your actual need makes communications even more awkward, especially if the response is insufficient and you find yourself having to ask again, more directly, to get what you need.

6. Review and Reshape Your Business Contacts Network.

Routinely evaluate potential new business relationships that are important for the future success of your business, and create straightforward outreach plans for establishing these new connections and building mutually beneficial relationships. Be selective in choosing prospective relationships in which you and your new contact can add the most value to one another’s businesses.

7. Reach Out to Collaborate On a Big Solution Together.

Collaboration is an organic relationship-builder. When challenges emerge, call together key people on your team to collaborate on developing and aligning a set of objectives and then on brainstorming potential solutions. Leverage the experience and unique perspectives of participants, and develop new processes, new product ideas, new policies, or another relevant new way of operating to benefit customers, workers, investors, and other stakeholders.

8. Nurture Key Relationships.

Spend sufficient time on your most important business relationships, including your best customers, highest-performing employees, local business operators, and other community leaders who can make the biggest positive impacts for your company. Don’t let yourself and others get stuck in irrelevant chit chat and ego-boosting. Focus largely on ways to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships.

9. Expand Your External Network.

Leave the office, and meet people you with whom you need to make new business connections. Introduce yourself. Offer to help when needed. This is the first step in building a relationship with each new customer, supplier, local competitor, remote peer sweeping business, and other relevant persons (perhaps in local government, media, etc.) whom you’ve contacted.

10. Practice Active Listening.

People respond best to someone who is truly listening to them. That’s why every business leadership article and formal course emphasizes active listening as one of the top requirements for success, even though they need to listen seems obvious enough. But, it’s not a natural skill. It takes focus to listen at a deeper level and ask questions that reflect that greater level of interest in what someone else has to say. So, work on your listening skills until you find you’re listening as much or more than you’re talking.

11. Speak in Positive Terms.

Being a positive person helps strengthen business relationships. People are not inspired by chronic negativity. For example, don’t engage in gossiping (saying negative things about other people). It causes people to mistrust you and damages your reputation. Instead, work to resolve conflicts directly, by speaking to the involved parties personally about issues.

12. Let Your Brand Stand for Something More.

It’s great that your brand stands for commercial power sweeping service quality. But your good name can represent more in the world. Building relationships with other business leaders who share your social and/or environmental concerns by collaborating on initiatives brings opportunities to work together toward solutions and engages you and your collaborator(s) as co-advocates. It’s an ideal way to help your community and build important business relationships too.

13. Don’t Expect Things to Stay the Same Forever.

Do not prioritize consistency over innovation, when a strong opportunity for the latter presents itself. If you discover a possibility that you believe could help advance your business, reach out for discussion with people in your company who are in a position to contribute ideas and start collaborating. Encourage risk-taking, and use the opportunities it generates to foster internal business relationships with your team members that can lead to innovations that advance your shared goals.

14. Identify Your Common Goals or Mission with Your Investors.

Just delivering one after another quarterly or annual presentation of your financial analysis can work against your goals of building strong relationships with partners and investors who are critical to the future of your business. It can be very impersonal, too formal, and take on an air of “you/them” instead of “us.” Talking about your mutual goals and mission can help build a sense of team with investment stakeholders that can inspire them to want to connect more to the business.

15. Do the Work to Maintain Your Relationships.

Establishing new business connections is just the first step. Commit the necessary time and effort to maintain the communications framework necessary to sustain those all-important business relationships. This is the way to strengthen them into powerful generators of highly effective cooperation and help when needed. Whether it’s two-minute stops to praise a worker for a job well done, or taking a peer business owner out to lunch, or sending a text to thank a vendor, reaching out is the core of relationship-building.

16. Appreciate People.

Be grateful for the value of other people to your business — and show your appreciation for anyone who helps you. We all want to be acknowledged and appreciated. So, from your vendors to your lenders, it’s important to let people know that you recognize and appreciate their work to help your business. It’s essential in strong relationships for each person to feel appreciated by the other.

17. Set and Manage Professional Boundaries.

Occasionally, business relationships can drift off track and begin to compromise priorities. So, maintain boundaries appropriately for your internal and external business relationships, to ensure that productivity, quality, team cohesion, the business mission, and recognition of distinct professional roles are all preserved. If necessary, assert formal boundaries, to manage limits on your business social interactions.
Further, Develop Your People Skills.
It’s a cliché that strong relationships of any kind begin with strong interpersonal skills. Evaluate your people skills. How effective are you in communicating information? Managing conflict? Obtaining agreement? Inspiring people? In addition to the areas of focus listed above, there are other interpersonal skills that you may find it helpful to work on. Abundant information resources are available on the web to help you strengthen your people skills in any areas needed.
NOTE: Maintaining difficult relationships that may require more specialized management involves the development of additional skills that cannot be covered here.

At the End of the Day…

To succeed in business, it’s necessary to cultivate robust bonds with individuals and groups internal and external to your power sweeping business, including employees, partners, investors, customers, vendors, government representatives, and others. The above essentials can help you develop good relationships with people associated with your business.
However, keep perspective. Excessive time investment in cultivating external business relationships can be counterproductive. So, be sure to balance the demands of operating your company to meet market demands and fulfill all other parts of your larger business strategy with your need to spend a reasonably modest percentage of your total time on relationship building.
That said, your business relationships empower you to recover from setbacks and losses and to take new risks and innovate. Your business is not operating in a vacuum. It takes a community. So, embrace your role as part of the business community, and make the most of your professional relationships inside and outside your company.

Additional Resources

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-hoagland-smith-skills-st-0820-20170820-story.html
https://www.inc.com/martin-zwilling/6-strategies-for-building-relationships-you-need-to-succeed-in-business.html
https://tech.buzzfeed.com/building-great-products-by-building-great-relationships-7d36d4027929
https://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthaharrington/2017/06/30/how-to-build-strong-business-relationships/#466ebc8a356f

Sources

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-hoagland-smith-skills-st-0820-20170820-story.html
https://www.inc.com/martin-zwilling/6-strategies-for-building-relationships-you-need-to-succeed-in-business.html
https://tech.buzzfeed.com/building-great-products-by-building-great-relationships-7d36d4027929
https://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthaharrington/2017/06/30/how-to-build-strong-business-relationships/#466ebc8a356f

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