“Business is all about relationships, how well you build them determines how well they build your business.” – Brad Sugars, Business and Wealth Coach
Many business leaders share Brad’s point of view and believe that strong relationships are key to succeeding. However, most recruiters, business development and sales reps’ success is measured by the number or the value of deals they close. This drives them to take a transactional approach to building relationships, which diminishes the authenticity of the relationships. While your business may experience success in the short-term, in the long run, building authentic relationships is the key to building a business that thrives long-term.
Authentic relationships with the right people offer tenfold the value than that of short-term transactions. These relationships are not based on a sales cycle or a “buying journey” and are developed over years and years.
What Does an Authentic Relationship Look Like in Business?
- It’s Not Transaction Based. Authentic relationships are not built around an end goal. If a relationship begins and ends with the opening and closing of a transaction, it is not an authentic relationship. Genuine relationships are formed when your focus shifts from what they can give you to what you can give them. In transactional relationships, the highest priority is receiving (what do I get). In genuine relationships, the priority is growing the relationships to create mutually beneficial rewards (what can I give).
- It’s Responsive. In a genuine relationship, both parties are responsive to each other regardless of the situation. We’ve all encountered a person, who is responsive when they want something from you, but otherwise seemingly impossible to get a hold of. Because authentic relationships are not built around a transaction, responsiveness is more consistent and communication is not just about furthering an agenda.
- It’s Personal. Genuine relationships are not all about business. They’re personal too. That doesn’t necessarily mean you socialize with that person, but that you seek to understand who they are outside of a business setting. What are they passionate about, and what motivates them to do what they do? What common ground do you have with them? In authentic relationships, each person seeks to gain a fuller picture of the other person. When you know someone personally, you will better understand what motivates them professionally, which leads to a more fruitful relationship for both parties.
- It Adds Value. Authentic relationships add value to your business and your life. That does not always come in the form of money or success. The relationship could offer growth and opportunity in other ways. If you’re striving to build authentic relationships, you should be looking for ways to add value to the relationship with your time, resources, connections or expertise.
How Can You Develop More Authentic Relationships?
- Give Before You Ask. Forget what you want from someone. First, focus on what you can do to help them. Perhaps you can make a connection for them, provide some valuable information or offer an idea. Once your relationship is more established and the other person has received value from it, they’ll be more responsive to your requests.
- Be Authentic. This seems obvious, but it can be tempting to try and attract someone you want to know by acting like a person you think they will like or respect. While that might work in the short-term, it won’t help you build a lasting relationship and will damage your credibility. Instead find natural ways to connect with that person by looking for common ground and identifying how you can provide value.
- Check In Occasionally. We all lead busy lives, and it’s easy to lose touch with people you meet in a business setting if you don’t see them as a short-term prospect. Set reminders to check in regularly with people you meet through networking. Connect with them on social media, and find a reason to contact them without asking anything of them. You can congratulate them on a work achievement, anniversary or reward, wish them a happy birthday, ask them how their family is doing, or inquire about a trip or an event you saw them post on social media.
- Set Up a Meeting in Person When Possible. When you meet someone at an event, suggest a one-on-one, in-person meeting when you follow up. Eight-five percent of professionals agree that in-person meetings build stronger, more meaningful business relationships. It makes you more memorable, gives you better insight into who they are, and starts off your relationship on a more personal note. While new contacts, especially executives or senior leaders, might not agree to a face-to-face meeting initially, once you’ve established trust and provided value, it’s a good idea to ask again.
Building authentic relationships in business is not complicated, but it does take patience and a shift in focus. Instead of measuring success by the number of deals closed, measure it by the number of authentic relationships developed and nurtured. Authentic relationships payout much larger dividends than closed transactions. Focus on building genuine relationships, and they will build your business for you.