Having a killer business idea is really only half the battle. You may have created the product or dreamed up the service that you feel has the potential to change everything and develop into a profitable business - but only focusing on that side of things could mean that you miss a few vital factors which will really help your company to establish itself and grow. Building effective business relationships quickly is a standalone skill - and it's a factor which can easily determine the success or failure of your enterprise.
Developing your interpersonal skills is never a waste of time. Instead, see it very much as a vital building block. The old saying that people don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people still rings true. And not matter what sector you operate in, if you can’t build the working relationships you need with clients, staff, investors, suppliers and other businesses then you may be creating huge problems without even knowing it. So, how do you develop the skills and shortcuts that keep your company connected in the way it needs to be?
Diversify Your Network
Forcing yourself out of your usual comfort zone and away from your usual inner circle can feel tough, but there’s nothing like broadening your horizons to add to your business in a very positive way. You can choose to focus on specific key connections you’d like to build and improve. Say you run a manufacturing business. Taking a particular supplier who is crucial to what you do, like Metrology Parts, and really putting the time into creating a better relationship could mean access to exclusive deals, news of newer products or perhaps even what competitors are planning or even more flexible credit terms - all of which could come in very handy in the future. Or you may choose to focus on your relationships with the media, or with a particular investor. All of it will be time well spent.
Promote Your Values
When you write your first business plan, you should always make sure there is content on the ‘why’. Your purpose as a company, your vision and values and what difference you want your business to make in the world. These are the touchstones that you use to communicate with others about who you are and what you do.Naturally, having a strong sense of purpose and an authenticity is something others tend to be drawn to and admire. And it's an easy way of establishing common ground with those who share similar views. Refer back to your ‘why’ as you come into contact with others and it will also reinforce your own purpose, as well as making connections with others and even helping your productivity.
Be In The Middle
Sometimes it's not as simple as finding a local networking event and shaking as many hands as possible. You have to remember that great working relationships are a long game. There may be no immediately discernible benefit in a connection you make - but things have a habit of shifting over time. Developing your network means acting as a connector. Facilitate introductions between others, and you will develop a reputation as a can-do person, a ‘fixer’. That means when a contact is looking for help on something you can supply, you’ll be the first person they think of. Reciprocality and mutual benefit are the real things to aim for.