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How to Cultivate Good Business Relationships

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 5 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Cultivating Good Business Relationships

Good business relationships are all about how you relate to people - be that your customers or clients and whilst there are many smaller things you can do to foster good business relationships the main element you should be focusing on is developing trust.

Building Trust

Just as with a romance, building a business relationship doesn’t happen overnight and both trust and credibility need to be earned. Similarly, building trust also means that you are willing and prepared to risk being completely open and honest with your clients and customers who will then be able to perceive you as a real person with both strengths and weaknesses. If you can do that, you’ll find that your openness will be rewarded with reinforcement and support by clients who see you as a business person who operates with a high degree of integrity as opposed to operating behind a ‘cloak and mask’. In building trustworthy relationships, you’ve got to release any sense of fear – of failure, of rejection, of the unknown, of not knowing the right answers or not having the ideal solutions all the time etc. and firmly put your efforts into knowing exactly who you are, what your business stands for and what you have of real value to offer prospective clients and customers. In order to have that trust reciprocated however, and to build and develop a client base, there are some things which you need to do in return.

How to Treat Your Clients/Customers

Your clients should already take it as read that you have the knowledge and expertise in your chosen field but what they’ll value more than anything is that you are concerned about them. Here are some useful tips:

  • Be interested in their business and not just your own. It’s only by understanding their business that you’ll be able to provide them with what they need.
  • Return every phone call and every e-mail. Whether its existing customers or new enquiries, always return correspondence as soon as you can, even if you can’t always provide them with what they want.
  • Be proactive – don’t just sit and wait for them to tell you all about their new innovations. Keep your eyes peeled on the local and trade press and visit their company website frequently and find out if they’ve had any recent developments. Call up or send them an e-mail to congratulate them on any good news and put some referrals their way, if possible.
  • Make them feel like ‘the special one’. When you’re meeting with a client, only talk about them not about any of your other clients. Make sure they feel like you’re only interested in them. And send them a letter or e-mail after any meeting, thanking them for their time and summarising any agreed points that were discussed.
  • Keep your problems to yourself. Always be upbeat when talking with your client. They’ll have issues of their own and won’t want to hear about yours.
  • Don’t criticise your client. Even if you’re being ambivalent about a particular client, don’t criticise them to anyone else. Idle gossip can spread around the business community like wildfire.
  • Don’t lie. Own up to any mistakes you might have made early on. Don’t leave it to your client to stumble across any errors you’ve made later on.
By being honest and showing integrity towards your client, and in being polite and considerate, you’ll be well on your way to developing a trusting relationship between you and your clients or customers that should serve you well for many years to come.

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