How to Build Better Business Relationships

Photo: Getty Images.

Tips on how to network and build strong relationships with other entrepreneurs and mentors.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that you can’t go it alone. Building strong relationships is essential not only to grow your business but also to help navigate the challenges that you will be faced with over the span of your career. A critical aspect of being a leader means knowing when to ask for help, whom to ask, and how to put that advice into practice. Entrepreneurship is often a lonely journey, but the thing is, it doesn’t have to be. Strong relationships with peers can open doors to new opportunities, and provide valuable support and priceless advice to gain momentum in your career. So how do you build and keep those key relationships and networks needed to succeed in business?

Find Opportunities to Connect

Join a professional network in your industry, or in the entrepreneurial space. Becoming a member will mean having a list of events and contacts at your disposal. There are always incredible people in these networks. They tend to understand the importance of community and helping other professionals and their peers succeed.

Utilize online platforms. LinkedIn and other social networks can assist you in building your contacts and business relationships. You can find and share resources and industry news, and learn about events and new opportunities. This is a great way to ease into making connections by observing, following, and learning from what others share. Engage in conversations, and share events and news that interest you, and you will attract like-minded individuals.

Attend conferences, seminars, workshops, and lunches. It is key to put yourself into situations where networking is guaranteed to occur. People go to these gatherings with the sole purpose of networking and learning, and each event creates an opportunity for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and establishing connections. Not only can you expand your network, but industry events are also the best way to stay up to date with the latest trends, advancements, and best practices. The knowledge gained can enhance your professional development and also serve as a conversation starter during networking interactions. While at these events, be proactive and engaging, and don’t leave without contact information. Showcase your best self by being attentive, genuine, and eager to learn.

Build Strong Relationships

Once you have established a contact, now is the time to put in the effort, follow up, and stay in touch. As I previously mentioned, don’t leave an event without handing out your contact information and retaining others’. Once you have that info, use it. Show initiative and seek out mentors who have the experience and knowledge in areas that you are interested to grow in. Demonstrate your ability to learn and show your gratitude when you do. Send follow-up messages, arrange for coffee or lunch, send a thank-you, and then follow up again. Working individuals, especially entrepreneurs, are busy people. If you want to build a relationship, then you have to show initiative and put the effort in. A good way to stay in touch with someone, without always asking for something, is to share relevant articles and updates or invite them to events.

Offer assistance and support, and be willing to go out of your way to share knowledge. A relationship is a two-way street, and a mutually beneficial connection will strengthen it in the long term. How can you provide value? Maybe it’s by making new introductions, sharing your review of a course or event you attended, or offering advice in an area you are knowledgeable in.

Most important, be genuine and authentic. Most of us are looking for real connections that we can rely on for years to come. To build a strong business relationship, trust needs to be a foundation. Listen, provide thoughtful feedback, be honest, and show genuine interest. Investing time and effort in building your network is a strategic endeavor that can propel your career forward and enrich your journey.