Relationships are important in life. They’re at the heart of almost everything we do as humans—not to mention vital to our wellbeing.
Yet, relationships often aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think about business. But they should be.
Relationships are at the basis of our business success—positive relationships translate into new business, new clients, engaged customers, supportive providers, happy employees, and better negotiations. The list goes on and on.
As our work worlds evolve into an era ever more focused on digital communication and connection, the ability to continue building meaningful, professional relationships has become more important than ever. How can you cut through the digital noise? What makes a business contact memorable? What makes someone think of your business and want to reach out?
We talk a lot about networking in business, in fact, 80% of professionals consider professional networking important to career success according to a global study by LinkedIn, but what about nurturing those relationships after the fact?
What happens after that networking event when it’s all too easy to lose touch with those new connections you just made—connections that when strengthened effectively, can yield more opportunities for both professionals and the businesses they’re employed by?
From digital tools to better grow your relationships to the mindset, attitude, and behaviors that help, we’ve rounded up seven strategies that we use here at Thnks to strengthen professional relationships while supporting your own business success along the way.
Read on to discover 7 ways that you can build better business relationships right now:
1. Improve your communication skills
Improving how you communicate with colleagues, clients, and superiors can have a huge impact on your success in business.
This could be in the way an email is written, how you present yourself in meetings, how you speak to others, or how effectively you’re able to lead team projects.
Learning about communication tactics and being able to recognize your own tenancies can be extremely beneficial in building relationships. It enables us to better understand how we come across from the other person’s point of view—something every good communicator navigates.
There are many communicative success seminars on LinkedIn, books on how to be a better professional, and podcasts to help you grow in these areas in professional and personal settings.
If you’re just getting started in this growth, we recommend an online workshop such as Building Professional Relationships offered by LinkedIn.
2. Respond to feedback positively
How you give and receive feedback from peers and clients can say a lot about how you do business.
A key to success—always lead with a positive attitude and communication style. This will not only make you more likable to others but also create a more positive work environment in your company.
Author Douglas Stone said it best in his book, Thanks for the Feedback, saying “Feedback-seeking behavior—as it’s called in the research literature—has been linked to higher job satisfaction, greater creativity on the job, faster adaptation in a new organization or role, and lower turnover. And seeking out negative feedback is associated with higher performance ratings.”
Practicing feedback and learning to incorporate change around negative feedback is a major part of creating strong professional relationships.
3. Do some house-keeping
Staying organized with who you have done business with, met at events, or spoken with over Zoom, is an important part of making meaningful relationships.
Be sure to add new contacts to your email connections, stay organized on what companies people work for, and make notes about what news they shared with you. Connect on social platforms to stay up to date with them.
It’s all too easy to network at an event or make an introduction with someone, only to have it drop off and forever be lost. For those you haven’t connected with recently, but want to stay top of mind with, send a thoughtful gesture such as a Thnks-a-latte.
4. Spend quality time with colleagues and clients
Getting to know fellow professionals on a more personal level builds trust and creates a deeper connection. When people feel they “know” you and have a positive relationship with you, they are more likely to be further engaged in supporting your business as well.
Whether this means customers or clients, the more you know them, the better relationships you will have, and the more you’ll both reap from it.
Remember, not all time needs to be spent discussing work-related matters when it comes to catching up with professional contacts.
Taking the time to really get to know people goes a long way. This could mean going to dinner with prospective clients, or grabbing a coffee for the new hire—it’s about finding those moments where you can connect about something beyond work.
5. Finetune remote work etiquette
While we’ve all become accustomed to working remotely, and there are certainly many benefits of this structure, it can also become too easy to become disconnected, disrupting our ability to make meaningful connections at work.
When possible, turning on your camera for meetings and looking presentable can create a more personable experience when meeting virtually. Also being mindful of your tone, facial expressions, and body language can make a big impact on your credibility and appearance when working remotely.
When time allows, do a quick check-in with the group before getting to business. A simple gesture of asking “how are you?” can mean a lot on stressful workdays.
6. Be a good listener
Being a good listener helps not only yourself succeed, but others feel like they can trust you with work-related matters. Yet as listeners, we are distracted, forgetful, and preoccupied 75 percent of the time.
From cell phones to monitors to the constant need to multitask, we simply aren’t paying enough attention much of the time.
Being a person that peers and clients can go to for advice or an open ear can go a long way in a professional setting. This means listening and engaging with what they have to say.
We all know that look in someone’s eye when they’re in a distant place while you’re speaking. We naturally gravitate to build relationships with people who we think value us—and that includes our thoughts.
Listening also expands your knowledge—in fact, 85 percent of our learning is derived from listening.
Many times people have an insight you haven’t thought of or they may share information that’s useful to you in doing your own job, provide a perspective you hadn’t thought of, a new lens from which to view a project you’re working on. Connecting with others through listening is a supportive way to strengthen relationships.
Still unsure of how to become a better listener? The New York Times outlines some great ideas in this article, How to be a better listener.
7. Show gratitude and appreciation
Perhaps the most important in our opinion is the act of showing gratitude and appreciation for others!
Giving thanks and recognizing others is always an appropriate way to give a compliment in the workplace. Research published by the Harvard Business Review found that “Giving compliments engendered a stronger social connection than receiving compliments because giving them encouraged people to focus on the other person.”
Doing this with a simple “thank you” or sending a thoughtful, personalized token of appreciation is a simple and efficient way to present thoughtfulness while strengthening relationships.
As you practice these strategies and strengthen your professional relationships, Thnks is here to make the relationship-building process seamless, efficient, and thoughtful. The simple gesture of saying Thnks is a great way to invest in and nurture professional relationships while demonstrating genuine appreciation.
Within seconds, users can send gestures of appreciation with their professional connections by searching for an expression, creating a customized note, and sharing it via SMS or email. If you’re interested in signing up, you can start sending Thnks today! Sign up here. Or if you’re interested in learning more for your pro or enterprise team to use Thnks, book a demo!