How to Build Long-Term Business Relationships
I have 563 “friends” on Facebook, 126 “followers” on Instagram, and 26,800 “connections” in my LinkedIn network.
Each of these people is important, but I’ll admit only some of these relationships go beyond a professional nod or loose acquaintance.
How can a superficial business relationship develop into one that lasts long-term? Why should we place importance on building longer-term, more meaningful relationships?
We all know networking is important to business, especially in the field of recruiting. But can developing more meaningful, long-term relationships bring benefits beyond networking?
The Mindset of a Long-Term Relationship
Think about the first time you met your in-laws. How did you act? Compare this to your first time meeting someone at a trade conference you may never see again. How do these conversations differ? When you meet people you will know long-term, you take more time to listen, give a bit more effort, and go out of your way to find commonalities.
When you develop a long-term relationship mindset, you create more meaningful connections. “Treat each employee relationship as if it’s going to be permanent,” says Marty Fukuda of Entrepreneur. “This is the difference between a summer fling mentality and a committed bond. If you believe you will be working in the same office with an individual for the next several decades, you probably will take more care in crafting a meaningful relationship.”
Long-Term Relationships Build Trust by Having the Other’s Best Interests
If you think of relationships as long-term, your behavior may change. For example, you will want to look out for the other person’s best interests, knowing you will interact in the future. Practically, this may mean investing more time training someone. In recruiting, this may mean asking about a long-term career path as well as a short-term job goal. You may listen with the purpose of remembering a hometown or the name of someone’s spouse, knowing you will follow up on this connection in the future.
In contrast, a short-term relationship mindset may mean falsely influencing someone to buy something not needed to make a quick sale or having a cursory conversation out of mere obligation.
Playing the “long game” with someone is good business strategy. “To be successful in sales you have to play the long game,” says advertising entrepreneur Chelann Watt. “It’s about understanding the way in which your avatar thinks and the moves they make. Because at the end of the day, money is a trust currency. You don’t just hand over your hard-earned money to strangers. There needs to be a level of trust built between you and your client so that when the time comes for them to be making those big decisions, you are the clear, trusted choice.”
Meaningful Social Connection Leads to Personal Happiness
Besides networking, developing meaningful, long-term relationships has both health and happiness benefits.
For her bestseller, The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin spent a year of her life researching what makes people happy. And hands-down, across the globe, one of her biggest findings is the importance of meaningful social connection. “Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter you’re far more likely to describe yourself as ‘very happy,’ says Rubin. “Not only does having strong relationships make it far more likely that you take joy in life, but studies show that it also lengthens life (incredibly, even more than stopping smoking), boosts immunity, and cuts the risk of depression.”
Here are a few practical tips for building long-term relationships:
- Spend quality time with people by showing up to lunches and social activities
- Offer support to other people in times of adversity. Go to a party, go to a wedding or funeral, visit a newborn baby, stop by someone’s desk.
- Go to groups- connecting over shared interests builds connection
- Consider remembering birthdays or using social media to praise someone’s work, send holiday cards that are personalized, pick up the phone or send a thoughtful text.
So much of our personal and professional lives are measured by the happiness we experience in our relationships. Our network is only as valuable as the time we put into these relationships.
Artemis Consultants prides itself on its trusted network of business owners, hiring managers, and leaders in the industries of SaaS, Technology, Data and B2B Technology & Services companies.
-Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Content Writer Mellody Melville