By Maureen A. Farrell
Business Development Executive
“Success in business is all about making connections.” Sensible words extracted from Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson – Founder of Virgin Group.
Relationships in general shape the solid foundation of human existence. We, as a human being have a supreme and independent sense of individuality and the values of our existence are a mere reflection of our relationships.
Business Relationships are no different than any other relationship we have come across. They require great time and effort to sustain, and they should be mutually valued. In this article, I will be taking you on a stroll into the importance of business relationships and how they play a fundamental role in reflecting the intensity of success in our social and business life.
When it comes down to it, the art of business relationships serve as the glue that holds the entire organizational body of a business together. You could be the CEO of a company or you could be the receptionist at the front desk; regardless of your position, business relationships reflect your status, success and overall sense of identity. You simply cannot influence or lead by example if you cannot first effectively relate to others.
SO.. HOW CAN YOU RELATE TO OTHERS?
Respect is one of the primary main factors that contribute to a successful business relationship. Respect is your ability to accept a person for who he or she is. When you respect a person’s right to differ you create an atmosphere of trust and in turn, trust leads to enthusiasm of new and innovative opportunities, strategies, and associations and so on.
For instance, when I started my career in NCS MENA, it was my first job in an unfamiliar business environment that I was in no way subject to before. This new environment was somewhat strange for me and I wasn’t able to socially communicate with my fellow colleagues because I was hesitant and in-confident of the response.
Fortunately, my unpleasant attribute was overcome with the help of my colleagues who started regularly approaching me, conversing with me and sharing experiences which as a result we got to know each other better, creating a bond of trust and comfort. Today I can proudly say that because of their simple welcoming approach, I have gained confidant friends, mentors and exceptional colleagues to work with which in turn has reflected on creating a better environment and in generating better results.
Most businesses have a global nature – regardless of the country, employees often come from various backgrounds, each with a different culture and ethnicity. In order to successfully incorporate multicultural differences, these differences must be understood, expressed, and most of all respected.
Another vital contributing factor to a successful business relationship is communication. Having successful business communications with clients is not the only main aspect in enhancing relations. On average you spend your entire day in the office communicating with others through several channels of communications. Whether you’re trying to gain new potential clients or conversing with existing clients or internal stakeholders, pretty much everything you say and do is a reflection of your individuality and your business. The way you influence and communicate with internal stakeholders has an imperative impact on yourself and your business as well.
With integrity and trust comes influence. Influence is the key in ensuring that all stakeholders are treated with transparency, fairness and equality. This goes to show that once you have understood the importance of respect, then only will you be able to establish and maintain successful and effective communications that strengthen and influence the roots of ethical business relationships.
ETHICS. WHY IS IT AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN BUILDING STRONG BUSINESS RELATIONS?
It is no doubt that influencing ethical relationships relating to your businesses’ interaction with external stakeholders has a direct impact on the success of your business. Simple steps like having a company policy to encourage positive relationships with external stakeholders can assist in the trusted positioning of your business in the long run.
On the other hand, it is also equally imperative that ethical relationships with colleagues and employees are present as well to encourage positive relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Although competition creates a motivational atmosphere, it should be limited to an extent. Keeping unhealthy levels of stress and over-competition between employees or colleagues reflects on their integrity, the business reputation and may lead to broken-down relationships in future. This is why is important to encourage ethical business relationships between the internal stakeholders as well as the external stakeholders.
THE ART OF MAINTAINING BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
Once you have fully acknowledged the factors that lead to successful business relationships, you have to master the art of maintaining business relationships. Below are a few points on how you can build strong and beneficial business relationships:
Never be afraid to be yourself. Being yourself creates an atmosphere of respect and builds trust. When you appear to be a manufactured business minded person, people will find it difficult to relate to you as it gives no sense of comfort to be open to new ideas.
As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. In the same sense, no business deal is closed in a day either. Relationships require plenty of invested time. Invest in listening, it highlights your virtues. Invest in understanding, it shows your authentic concern. Take time to apply networking in your individuality. For instance, take time to follow-up on old colleagues, friends, and associates through different channels of communications. Don’t only show interest based on your needs. You have to be willing to invest time in nurturing and molding the relationship to the extent that you and your associate involved are mutually prepared to proceed further in a business sense.
In today’s society not knowing an answer to an industry related question which you expertise in is referred to some as a “shocker”. Yes, it is important for people to see you as an expert in your field, but when you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation, be humble enough to reply with honesty. Admitting unawareness, mistakes and correcting mishaps will take you far in creating effective business relations. People appreciate honesty, if you can be honest, you will encourage honesty and this lays the foundation for a successful and professional relationship.
It is important to know who you are communicating with. Understand the emotional intelligence of your associate. Take time to forward selected articles, suggestions, and so on to people you know would be interested in such material. Sometimes sending an actual handwritten letter or making a telephone call goes a long way as opposed to sending an email to show appreciation. There are never enough thank you messages to appreciate your clients, colleagues, employees, family and so on.
Always be considerate. Don’t base all your analysis on a predefined concept. For instance, when you sign an agreement with a new client, take into consideration that it is a memorandum of understanding rather than a binding obligation. Always remember to solve disagreements amicably through personal discussions first and not by pointing to clauses on the agreement.
Interactions with all stakeholders affect the business continuity of an entity to great lengths. If the relationships between you and your employees, colleagues or clients are weak it will reflect and result in loss of significant bonds and institutional knowledge.
To sum up this article, you have to fully be aware of the basis of knowledge and understanding when it comes to making effective business relationships in order to maximize their potential. The world as we know it is a relationship driven culture and this means that if the right amount of time and effort is not invested in building and maintaining relationships, then the chances of success are limited.