Earlier this month, we discussed the client selection process. If you missed that post, you can find it here. In today’s post, I wanted to talk about the other folks in your business – your colleagues, partners, vendors, and employees. Basically, we are talking about the relationships you have with anyone in your business other than your customers.
As the old saying goes, no man is an island. The same goes for your business. You want and need business partners to inspire you, move your business forward, create referral pipelines, and collaborate on projects. So you have to create business relationships that serve you. I’ve found that building business relationship can also lead to finding new and exciting social circles, like here at Passionistas. And what can be better than finding like-minded people to go to happy hour or dinner with you.
There are 5 Steps to building great business relationships.
Step 1. Know Your Business Values and Mission Then Let Them Shine
Doesn’t everything always come back to you in the end? Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or working with a team, you have to know your business values and weave them into everything you do. Your values and mission will dictate how you hire and whom you hire, how you communicate with members of your team, how you lead, and how you market your services. It will also go a long way in attracting great business partners who are in alignment with you. To me, there is no better example of this than Oprah. Her values and beliefs have always been on full display, and she has built some of the best business relationships and careers out there (like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Iyanla Vanzant, and Brene Brown for example) because of it.
Step 2. Shoot For The Win-Win
One of the reasons I switched from prosecution to entrepreneurial law is that I grew tired of the “I win/you lose” game. Despite the concepts of justice and zealous advocacy, there were too many times where the case came down to winning or losing one legal maneuver after another. It was a constant fight, and it was exhausting. The same is true in business. If you want to build better relationships, stop trying to beat everyone. Instead, try to find ways to create value for everyone involved.
Step 3. Stay Humble
I think I’ve met more than my fair share of pretentious, arrogant … (you fill in the blank). I can’t figure out if law school creates them or if they are simply drawn to this profession. What I learned from my experience dealing with pretentious types is that no one, I mean no one, likes to deal with arrogance. I’ve seen many an assistant “forget” to do something just to prove a point to a supervisor who thinks he runs the show. We’re all in this together. People are people and should be treated with respect no matter what. If you remember this, you’ll go far with building relationships.
Step 4. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
This step is a reminder to myself. Lawyers have great communication skills, but we don’t always use them. I’ve seen several nasty legal letter grams go back and forth between attorneys on an issue until someone decides to pick up the phone and have an actual conversation. There is nothing like the human connection to really understand an issue or diffuse a situation. If you see a conflict brewing with one of your relationships, try to talk it through with that person. You’ll be glad you did.
Step 5. Add Some Pizzazz
In Joseph Sugarman’s book, Triggers: 30 Sales Tools You Can Use to Control the Mind of Your Prospect to Motivate, Influence, and Persuade, he talks about the power of familiarity in selling. He writes, “[e]ven the words familiar and familiarity have the word family in them. People feel most comfortable within their own families. They feel confident and trusting and allow themselves to be more vulnerable.”
We live in a social world, and people are more comfortable with you if they know you. This means that you have to inject your personality into your business and business relationships. Resist the urge to take on a “business persona” and learn to embrace who you are.
Think there should be a bonus relationship-building step? Let me know in the comments below.