NETWORKING / JUL. 24, 2014
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How to Make Important Business Connections That Last

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Relationships are important in the business world. Business owners need to positively connect with their customers and employees. Coworkers need to learn how to get along with each other and with their clientele. With the advent of technology, the Internet and social media, sometimes it seems like face to face contact these days is a thing of the past. However, it is more important than ever to continue to cultivate good relationships in the business world. In a recent Inc.com article, bestselling author, Peter Economy shared his thoughts on how to make important business connections that last. Mr. Economy has over two decades of experience in the business management sector and 10 years’ experience working on projects with top management leaders like Jim Collins and Frances Hesselbein.

Advice from an Expert Consultant on Business Management

Peter Economy advises that “relationships are the lifeblood of any business” and—by cultivating such relationships among your customers, employees, investors, vendors and others in your industry—many doors can be open to you. The following six tips from Mr. Economy can help you make important business connections that last.

1. Make Immediate Follow Up Contact

When you meet someone for the first time and exchange business cards or contact information, it is important to follow up with an email. Mr. Economy suggests that this email is sent immediately so that you can remind this person who you are, what you do and how much you enjoyed meeting him or her. The sooner you follow up after meeting this person, the better they will remember you. You never know who you are going to meet who can become a good contact for collaboration or future projects. When you respond immediately with an email, it showcases your professionalism and shines a “favorable light on both you and your business.” This article shares some tips on how to build strong professional networks.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Phone Call

The second step toward cultivating important business connections is to learn to appreciate the value of phone calls. After meeting a new contact and sending an email, you need to follow up with a phone call. Mr. Economy shared that “calling someone is always more personal and creates a connection between two people that wouldn’t exist from just reading the words on a screen.” It’s the personal connection and feedback you’ll receive from person to person contact that will help you cultivate connections that last.

3. Return Voicemails in a Timely Fashion

Anyone running a business or working full-time and dealing with the pressures in life is busy with day to day operations and tasks. Being busy means there will be times that we miss phone calls. When you receive voicemail messages, make a return phone call as soon as possible. Don’t opt for sending an email. Instead, take the time and make an effort to call. Mr. Economy advised that if you can’t call right away, at least send an email to acknowledge the voicemail and schedule a phone call as soon as possible.

4. Sending Thank-you Notes Pay Off

Sending thank you notes is not the norm these days. However, when you send one, it will pay huge dividends. The person receiving such a thank you note, will appreciate the time you took to get back to the basics and be personable. You can send a thank you note via email, text or the most meaningful way—via handwritten card or letter. Mr. Economy advised that when you thank someone this way, “it shows that you appreciate the time the person took out of his or her day for you.” In turn, such appreciation makes this person want to work with you.

5. Take the Time to Get Together

Out of this list of steps, getting together with your business connections can be the most important and effective one. These get-togethers should be informal and fun, yet still remain professional. Mr. Economy advised that it is important to have various get-togethers throughout the year for your customers, employees and vendors. Taking the time to get to know others better through face to face contact will impact your business in a positive way. Find the balance between the professional atmosphere and the relaxed meet-and-greet time with food, beverages and “product demos or company tours.” During these get-togethers, focus on developing relationships rather than working the hard sell. 

6. Genuine Intentions Go a Long Way

Most people know when someone is being disingenuous. If you want to cultivate long-standing relationships in your business, you need to be genuine. Mr. Economy advised that it is possible to “make a wonderful impression by being interested and thoughtful” in all of your interactions with customers, vendors, employees and other business contacts. Becoming a good listener is key to cultivating genuine business relationships. This article shares some tips on developing good communication skills such as—maintaining good eye contact and being personable and friendly.  

Cultivating healthy business relationships is vital to being successful in the business world. It is important to maintain a set of guidelines for how you will follow up with business contacts and cultivate such relationships. Always be genuine in your behavior and take the time to get to know those in your network. Following these business relationship guidelines will pay off with increased business, new projects, customers and contacts.

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