Building better business relationships – it's just like Lego!By Melita Khawly | Jan 31, 12 08:43 AM
When developing pivotal business relationships the basic building blocks need to be solid
Some time ago, at a crucial point in negotiating a ground-breaking deal between two businesses worth multi mega-millions and with just a week to go to an end-of-financial-year deadline (plus an army of stakeholders on either side sweating out the daily, ever-changing complexities that arose) Mark my key contact cried out, “Melita! You are the vermin in my ear!”
I’ve been called many things in my life … but never a parasite! Ewwww! I burst out laughing (and so did he) and at that point I knew the deal was done – and it was! Why? Because in developing this pivotal business relationships the basic building blocks were right – just like Lego the pieces fitted together to form the solid and sustainable foundation needed to ensure it would result in success, regardless of the challenges.
So what are these basics?
1. Communicate. Clearly and regularly. Communication is the concrete block that any good business relationship is built upon. And once you start building, see it as the cement you use to fit all the pieces together and keep them there! Remember to choose your form of communication appropriately, depending on the nature and preference of the person, and the various stages of the relationship. Be flexible enough to adjust and change the type of communication along the way. For example, you may start in a more formal and written form, say via email, and then move to more informal, verbal exchanges as the relationship develops. Always err on the side of caution and allow the other person to set the precedent.
2. Learn to listen. Stop talking, especially about yourself, and allow the other person to talk more. It’s a healthy dialogue that makes for a healthy relationship, not a monologue. Actually take the time to ‘hear’ what your client, prospect or colleague is telling you. Then respond. Time and time again I see business relationships fail because the communication becomes one-sided. Keep it two-way, and keep your focus on them. Listening is the greatest and most effective communication skill you can master.
3. Be honest. This is crucial to building trust and rapport, which is fundamental to any healthy business relationship. No-one wants to be lied to or deceived on any level, and you certainly wouldn’t want to do business with someone you simply don’t trust! Honesty allows for a relationship to develop and thrive. Even when things go wrong or you make a mistake be honest about it. It will be appreciated and allow for issues to be resolved, and solutions worked out much more easily when things are truthful and all facts known. The relationship often remains intact and indeed strengthened as result.
4. Be yourself. Along the same lines as being honest, it’s important to be authentic. It also builds trust and rapport. Know yourself and be yourself. This allows others to get to know you. It’s you that the other person is responding to, regardless of whether you are representing your own business, a brand, a product or you work for someone else. Whatever the context, a business relationship is still on a basic level between two people – and you are one of them! By being real you use your unique strengths, skills and abilities more easily. This results in real, long-lasting business relationships that are genuine. Success then comes more naturally.
5. Care. If you value the relationship, value the person. The care factor you give any relationship directly affects the quality of it, and the outcome. Be interested in the person you have the relationship with and be sincere about it. Treat them like a person, not a label, such customer, supplier, job title etc. A business relationship is often between two very different people with two very different objectives, but if valued, will result in a highly successful business outcome.
Melita Khawly is a Premium member of Business Chicks, request her online business card and connect with her here.
An independent consultant she offers practical help with a skill set that includes strategic sourcing, negotiation, business development and strategic relationship management for big or small business. The results are building real business relationships that flourish, are mutually rewarding, successful and sustainable.
Check out her website: www.bdmconsultancy.com.au