As business people we are all working to increase our share of the market. But, having the best products at the best prices may not be enough. To build a successful business you have to build relationships – relationships with your peers and colleagues, with your customers and clients, with your suppliers and distributors, with your employees and co-workers, with your support services, with your board of directors, and even with your competitors.
In today’s complex business world every business is a “relationship” business. A relationship business is any business that is dependent on others – dependent for the quality and impact of its product, for its profitability. In your business life, as in your personal life, the strength and value of your relationships will play an important part in determining your success or failure.
But, relationships don’t just happen. The most accomplished leaders are people who know how to build relationships. How do they do this? Where do they start?
First, they shift the attention away from themselves and focus on the needs of the other party in the relationship – they are inclusive rather than exclusive. They cultivate and develop relationships slowly, evolving over time. The relationship starts out tentative, with doubts and expectations on both sides. It only makes sense that you can’t expect to have 100% agreement between two people with differing goals and strategies. Respect must be at the core of building a solid enduring business relationship.
We are all looking through our own lens, but if we can just widen the viewpoint to include others’ views then we can start to understand our differences and begin to negotiate with an underlying feeling of cooperation and compromise. The power struggle over whose way is the right way can be avoided. By accepting the concept that we can all learn from each other we can start to understand how to turn personality differences into positive business results.
As the relationship evolves it strengthens based on the shared respect, and matures into a trusted working relationship that can benefit both parties. This tactic isn’t completely altruistic; by giving, you will often get something back in return that is of equal or greater value.
This may be something concrete that you can put a dollar value on, but more likely it is something unseen that does not have a dollar value but may be infinitely more valuable – such as a good reputation that will increase the good will of your business and result in an overall improved value.