Wondering how to build relationships in business (and life)?
You’re not alone!
Understanding how to build relationships isn’t an easy feat, especially in business. In fact, it’s the reason I recently wrote an eBook on the topic!
The Relationship Process
It is a common misconception that relationships are simply “natural” and that they progress without any effort at all from any party involved. Actually, I hope that sentence made you laugh! Because by now you’ve likely learned that relationships are a lot of work.
Sure, you might have one or two relationships that are pretty low-key and don’t require a lot of effort. But generally speaking, great relationships take work. That’s why they’re great! You’ve put time, energy, and attention into your best relationships.
Now I’d like you to think about your worst relationships. Perhaps they fell apart slowly or ended abruptly, or might even be a constant source of trouble in your life currently. What went wrong in these relationships? What is different about the bad relationships in your life versus the good ones?
There is undoubtedly a laundry list of things that cause relationships to fail. And there are some things that are completely out of our control, such as the way the other person in the relationship thinks, feels, and perceives. But when it comes down to it, there are a number of things that we are in control of when it comes to our relationships. We are in control of our intent in a relationship, we control the level of effort that we put in, and ultimately, we have a 100/100 stake in the success of that relationship.
How to Build Relationships in Business [and Life]
We’ve determined together that building and maintaining relationships takes work. But what kind of work? And where do we even begin?
In this article, I’ll be sharing the first step of our three-step process to build relationships—applicable to life and work. Stay tuned for steps two and three of how to build relationships!
Step 01: Intent
The first, and perhaps most important factor to consider, is intent.
What is at the heart of your reasoning for befriending another person? Why are you pursuing a relationship with the other person to begin with?
In your personal life, these questions are likely easy to answer. Most people pursue friendships because they simply improve life. Great companions lead to happier lives and better experiences. And many people have friends that fill certain areas of their lives. For example, if you’re into skiing, cycling, and history, you might have friendships that support those interests.
And when it comes to personal relationships, intent is usually pretty cut and dry. The majority of people pursue relationships with others with good intentions. That is, they meet someone, discover a synergy, and move forward.
Unfortunately, once in a while, some relationships begin with bad intentions. This typically happens when one person has something to gain from the friendship. Perhaps the other person has money, or connections, or status. Whatever the case, when you’re forging a new relationship, intent is important. Make it a point to consider this as you develop friendships.
Things get much, much hairier when it comes to business relationships. It’s an unfortunate truth, but sincerity is a rarity in the majority of business relationships. That’s why modern day networking has put such a bad taste in people’s mouths. We all know that the point of attending a networking event is to connect with others for the possibility of a business transaction. This fact alone creates tension and feelings of mistrust. It becomes difficult to find the “good guys” in a room full of sharks.
The same can be said for building relationships in sales. Prospects aren’t stupid; they’re privy to the game by now. Salespeople walk in, “play nice,” then try to sell something. It just might be the oldest trick in the book!
This is where intent matters the most and where you can begin to change the game (so to speak). If you want to build real, true, strong, successful business relationships, you have to wrap your head around your intent. That is, your intent cannot be to simply make a deal, or gain a client, or get a referral, or get something out of the relationship. If that is your intent when pursuing relationships in business, best of luck to you. It is impossible to build real relationships with misguided intentions.
The good news is that there is another way. You can build strong relationships with strangers and do business with them down the road. How? Change your intent! Treat every relationship you pursue with good intentions.
When you are meeting new people at a networking event for the first time, put your own needs aside and focus on building the relationship from the ground up.
Get to know people as people. Be real, be genuine, and focus on creating a true friendship. If you hadn’t met at a networking event, would you be pursuing a friendship with this person? How would you forge this relationship if you had met this person at Starbucks instead of out networking?
I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic–comment below.