You could argue that every business is about relationships to a certain extent. Whether a company has a relationship with their customers, clients, consumers, or suppliers there is a connection that must be made and maintained. Fostering those relationships can have a lasting impact on the longevity and growth of a company. Here are four habits of great relationship builders.
1. Always offer before asking
With the exception of asking for directions, you would never ask a stranger for something without at the very least introducing yourself first. This etiquette should apply to email and phone communication as well. If you want to get in touch with someone or pitch a product, simply asking or pitching off the bat will leave the person at the other end feeling alienated.
Begin by explaining who you are and what you can offer, then ask to be put in touch with someone or tell him or her about your company. Neil Fogarty, a business writer with Virgin Airlines, says that a simple courtesy hello will make the person at the receiving end much more inclined to help.
2. Organize your connections
It's easy to build a relationship with the 10 or so people you see and communicate with regularly, but it's harder to maintain a connection with someone who isn't in your daily life. Make a point to keep track of the people you meet, where they live, how you met them, and what they do. These details make it a lot easier to build a relationship, even if it's from afar.
Social media automatically catalogs our connections and some of our interactions with them, making it a lot easier to keep people in your orbit. If you are going to visit San Francisco, you can quickly see a list of your connections that live in the Bay Area and contact them to meet up. Cataloging and then following up with loose connections can turn them into stronger relationships over time.
3. Spend some face-to-face time
While social media can be a powerful tool for organizing your contacts, they can be misused as well. If you invite 15 of your friends to come to your house, the time you spend with them will be markedly different than if you had spent one-on-one time with each. So while group settings can help a relationship along, individual time spent with someone is a vital part of making it stronger. A status update, like, comment, or retweet is only a part of maintaining a connection.
4. Resume where you left off
A great relationship builder naturally picks up a conversation with someone where they left off. That means if a client told you about their daughter's graduation the last time you spoke, the natural way to resume the conversation is asking how their daughter is doing. Mike Muhney, who wrote the book, "Who's in Your Orbit?: Beyond Facebook - Creating Relationships That Matter," told Forbes that remembering simple details will make the client feel like you care about them as a person. They will most likely prefer doing business with you going forward, to someone who didn't take the time to show interest.
Recalling details about someone's life comes naturally to some and not to others. For those who are not predisposed to remembering social details, it's a technique that can be learned through training and practice.