How to Build Solid Professional Relationships That Last

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Make Every Relationship Count

Our recent post on LinkedIn Fast Facts for small business owners explained that while social relationships are important in today’s world, it still serves well to remember that face-to-face ones continue to hold a lot of weight.

In fact, the key to professional success is by building and nurturing those relationships. In his article on building successful professional relationships Jeff Haden said, “Real success is impossible unless you treat other people with kindness, regard, and respect.” So how do successful people build these relationships? And more importantly, how do they keep them?

  1. They listen: As Haden says, many people want answers to the questions they don’t ask. For example, if a partner asks how you felt about an idea he presented, he may really be asking about his reduced role in helping run the company. Successful business leaders understand the real question and offer answers, support, and guidance
    What you can do: The next time a business partner, an employee, colleague or even acquaintance asks you a question, truly listen to them and discover exactly what they want to know. By answering their true question you’re building their trust.
  2. They help: And they do so without being asked first. When they listen to what people are struggling with, they are able to come up with solutions to help them get through it. They make a difference in someone else’s life by modestly – and willingly – offering a helping hand.
    What you can do: Don’t wait for someone to ask you for help because they may never even consider it. Instead, understand what it is you can do to help them and offer up a solution.
  3. They don’t always go big: We know… the saying goes, “Go big or go home.” However, when it comes to building relationships sometimes the small stuff means just as much. Haden says his relationship with the grocery store clerk is simply that… a customer/employee relationship, but it’s one in which both brighten each other’s days. That’s the foundation of building good professional relationships – making every single one count.
    What you can do: Stop looking at yourself as the person on one side of the checkout counter and just have a conversation. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll find out.
  4. They adapt: People who build successful relationships know what personality trait to highlight in every situation. They understand that not every business meeting will call for a take-charge attitude, but if it does they’ll be able to turn it on in an instant. They don’t want people to be turned off by someone who, as Haden puts it, “is so in love with his personality he can never dial it back.” Great relationships are built on understanding individuals and situations, and being able to adapt to them at a moment’s notice.
    What you can do: Easy – do as Haden suggests and dial it back. Scope out the specific challenge you are presented with and determine which facet of you would be best suited for the situation and the people involved.
  5. They take the blame: By listening, by understanding, and by adapting they are able to recognize those that can handle the pressure. Not everyone has thick enough skin to take the hits, so these leaders will step in instead. Not because they believe the other person is weak but because the leader knows they can handle the criticism while someone else may not. Haden says, “Few acts better cement a relationship.”
    What you can do: No one likes to be yelled at by a customer or a business associate, but it’s time to take the hit. More importantly it’s time to take the hit away from someone else. Listen to the complaint and then work with your employee or partner to resolve it. They’ll feel relieved you handled the situation but also glad you are involving them in any next steps.
  6. They also take responsibility: Those who understand their mistakes and take responsibility for them even when it’s most difficult are the ones other people want in their lives. It’s easy to push the blame on others, but successful relationships are formed when mistakes are turned into things of the past instead of something that defines the future.
    What you can do: Recognize your own shortcomings and take responsibility for them. Determine what steps are necessary to improve and work to make those changes. When you take responsibility and don’t place blame on others, your team will stand behind you.
  7. They give: And they understand that they may not always receive something in return. But that’s the beauty of fostering relationships. They don’t do things just to meet a new business partner, colleague, or friend – they do them because they want to do them. They like listening and helping, they enjoy meeting new people. They approach the relationship by making it all about the other person instead of the other way around.
    What you can do: Find the value in giving. Even if the other person isn’t as willing right away, showing you are in it for them, and not for yourself, goes a long way.

No matter how big or small your business is, every relationship you make is an important one. After all, Haden says, “You can be a rich jerk… but you will also be a lonely jerk.”

And since we’ve just spent 900 words telling you how to build solid professional relationships, it’s time to build one ourselves – with you!

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