No doubt you have a lot of assets built in to your business — YOU are your business, not just your company. One of your most important assets is the people you surround yourself with. Your business relationships are an asset that defines what your company is and what it stands for.
Those relationships — the ones you as a leader have with your people, and the ones you and your people have with your clients and customers — can make or break your business, your future and your financial success. Fostering those relationships and building trust is key.
The following attributes are important to maintaining solid business relationships.
Perhaps the most obvious measure of whether you’re able to build trust is whether or not you’re being honest. You don’t need to share proprietary information or expose secrets, but being open and acting in a straightforward manner will move you closer to your people. Those you’re close to on a regular basis will know if you’re on the up and up, and will respond accordingly.
Being a resource.
Don’t just reach out when you need something, share! We all have vendors, or even friends and family members, who we only hear from when they need something. Break that habit. Connect with your customers and employees just to see how they’re doing, or if they need something. Forward an interesting article or pass on a tip. Learn to be a resource so you’re always top of mind.
Not springing surprises.
Nobody likes surprises in business. There are enough challenges that crop up no matter how well you plan, so don’t make it worse. If something bad is a possibility, deliver the news early so everyone can prepare. And if possible, bring a solution along with the problem to minimize the shock and fear that might be baked into the surprise.
Meeting or beating deadlines.
This one’s simple: be on time with your deliverables. Be on time, period. No more explanation is necessary! (If you can’t hit your target, refer to the point above!)
Rewarding loyalty and expressing appreciation.
Let your people know where they stand if they’ve been standing by you. Be it your customers or your employees, express your appreciation for their work or their loyalty. You don’t need to throw an elaborate party — a simple handwritten note outlining your pleasure for their efforts goes a long way, in a personal manner, to strengthening a relationship.
All talk + no action = bad feelings.
Follow through on what you’ve committed to. You will lose the confidence of your clients and your employees if you offer them a constant stream of promises that aren’t kept. If you deliver a plan to a client, carry it out. If you tell your employees to expect some action on an internal agenda item, deliver it. The boy who cried wolf is a lasting parable because we’ve all experienced it in some way.
There is no magic bullet to fostering relationships and trust — much of it is common sense that is easy to get lost in the bustle of your daily schedule. But if you adopt these simple rules as part of your business routine you’ll definitely be on the path to stronger relationships that will benefit your business.