No matter which line of work you’re in, professional relationships should be considered the core and heart of the overall business system. Whether colleagues, clients, associates, stakeholders, customers or target audience, all business requires strong relationships to function and survive.
However, like most relationships, they rarely appear out of thin air and involve work and time to establish and build.
Within your organisation, your co-workers are automatically joined by the common threads of the industry you occupy and the particular company you represent. You are, in effect, all striving for similar outcomes and goals and working for the same head chief.
Solid time and effort, however, is still required in order to nurture and be an active participant of your internal team. The more trust and strength that binds you, the better you will communicate and the more productive and impactful you’ll be overall. An open, honest and team-oriented disposition along with the willingness to support and assist where possible, should put you on the right track from the beginning.
Relations outside of your organisation, on the other hand, including that of clients and customers, need to be somehow sourced and engaged by your business before a connection can be developed.
Organising special events and partaking in trade fairs and business conferences, for example, can be an effective way of marketing your brand, service or product. By associating with, or inviting target audience members, locals, community groups or other relevant bodies you are creating opportunities to share, educate and engage in appropriate ways.
Once appropriate contacts are familiarised with your brand, you’re ideally able to start gauging where potential interest lies in terms of linking with clients, selling to customers or even just establishing target markets.
The key is in touching base with those contacts on a regular (but not excessively frequent) basis. Sharing newsletters, offering exclusive deals and promotions and sending invites to events are examples of ways in which these relationships can be built on and maintained.
Particular relationships might need special attention in the form of direct networking such as business lunches, meetings and formal presentations. Over time these connections will strengthen while comfort levels and familiarity hopefully become second nature.
Remember – you never know where your next professional relationship might stem from. So always have your networking wits about you, and don’t dismiss any opportunities too hastily.