Relationship-building is an essential function of the business world. You may find yourself mingling with potential clients, onboarding a new employee, and nurturing an alliance with a business partner all in the same week. How can you hone your skills to ensure that you are strengthening and building these important relationships?
- Maintain Contact – Don’t wait for an invitation. As a leader, take the initiative and be the person that makes the first call or sets up the next meeting. Many times, both parties wait for the other person to reach out, leading to the misconception that the relationship isn’t valued by that person. Never let too much time go by without a touch point. Even if you can’t see them in person, bridge the space with some kind of contact, like sharing something with them online or sending a quick note.
- Be Vulnerable – Leaders should always be the first to open the door to more vulnerable conversation. Relationships get deeper as we share more with others, and through difficult events we become closer to those who identified with us. Be the person who initiates this progression in the relationship.
- Offer Something – Give someone a reason to be interested in interacting with you. This could be information, resources, an event invitation, or even just your time. Providing an offer gives you an opening to converse with others and potentially form new relationships.
- Make it Easy – People say “small talk counts” because it is a bridge to enriching or vulnerable conversations. Take small steps with conversation (rather than going from zero to sixty) to make it easier for the person to warm up to you.
- Mingle in Groups – One-on-one conversation can be daunting at the beginning of forging a relationship. Choose group settings to keep the pressure down and make everyone more comfortable. Groups also offer great networking opportunities to meet even more people, and the chance to bounce your ideas off of a receptive audience.
- Make it Persistent – Don’t take it personally when someone declines your offer. The person may have been busy, or inattentive to the first offer that you proposed. Offer something new that might appeal to them, and repeat this process a couple of times before you determine that they aren’t interested in pursuing a meeting.