Par Chadha explains how to build business relationships that will stand the test of time.
Solid business relationships are the bedrock of organisations destined to succeed. They are intangible assets and harbingers of better things to come in the future. They do, however, require a fair amount of effort. It can be difficult for busy executives to find the time to invest in these relationships with so many competing priorities, but in my experience, it’s an irreplaceable investment to make.
Keep The Engine Running
A business relationship may begin for any number of reasons, but it will only last if you keep fuelling it. Relationships are a complex bond between two parties with the right chemistry, positive energy, and an alignment of common interests. The two parties engage in a relationship because they have a shared vision that it will be mutually beneficial in the future.
I personally look for shared areas of interest with people I do business with and collaborate with them to build that common fabric. It’s important to stay away from hot-button issues, which have historically been defined as religion and politics. These days, I would definitely throw the topic of vaccination into that mix.
From the outset, prioritise trust, openness, equality, and respect.
Never simply look for how the relationship will benefit you – people can spot a phoney and will not waste their time with someone who is looking to use them for their own interests. The quality of business relationships reflects the values of the company and the people in that company. It takes a long time to build trust and sometimes no time at all to lose it. Lasting relationships require that certain boundaries are never crossed, and trust is at the top of that list.
Invest At All Levels
Relationships exist between groups as much as they do between people. It starts at the individual level, but it’s critical to ensure that the relationships you’re developing on the executive level are flowing down to other departments. Prioritise communication with your team about the meaningful business relationships you’re growing. If you neglect to invest broadly throughout the organisation, the effects will almost certainly trickle down to your customer.
Relationships with your customers are also built on the predictability of the product you produce. Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon are good examples of this. You know what you’re getting with those guys. They have developed a foundation of consistent delivery, and that’s why customers keep going back to them – particularly the consumer. It takes away the guesswork that most people don’t want to do.
Why You Can’t Afford Not To
Time and energy resources are scarce – it can be challenging to prioritise relationship building. But what you may not anticipate is that investing in relationships on the front end keeps the engine purring. If you don’t, the engine will start to sputter, and when problems occur, you’ll find that many of your resources are now distracted and redirected to solving issues that could have been avoided with a little relational deposit. At that point, it’s like the car has run out of fuel, and everyone is now stranded on the road to success.
We’re all guilty of sacrificing relational investment for the current fire we need to put out. But if we invested better in our relationships, could some of these fires have been prevented? Are we strategic by only dealing with what’s in front of us rather than looking to see what we are building for our future? Find that balance, lessen your struggle, and enjoy the results of a better work-life balance. You may just find that the stress of your job is reduced by having more allies. Many of us see business as a battlefield, and if this is so, it’s better to have more allies than enemies.
Time And Choices
Memories are long. In my personal experience, people remember both grudges and kind gestures, both failures and successes. Relationships that last have a common bond that survives the test of time. There is a reason for sharing war stories: The bonds built through shared experiences can last a lifetime, whether those experiences are shared failures or memorable successes. Relationships go through phases, and the few that I have lost tended to be where equality and balance were not achieved.
Like anything else in business, building lasting relationships requires some wisdom and discernment.
Not everyone is qualified to be a trusted friend, and some relationships won’t hold much payoff. Don’t be afraid to do some spring cleaning at times, but don’t just hand the relationship off when things get tenuous, either. Move carefully, keep things simple, and remember to avoid the instant gratification we worship in this culture. John F. Kennedy’s historic words come to mind: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Relationships are a bit like that.
All business relationships have to start somewhere, and hopefully, most will transcend to become bonds of friendship over time. I live my life to nurture every relationship this way and see no reason to change that. It’s not just about business; it’s about being blessed with so many great, long-lasting relationships with diverse people worldwide. This is key to a happy and fulfilling journey in life.
About the author: Par Chadha, Founder, CEO, and CIO of HandsOn Global Management (HGM), Chairman of Exela, and Co-Founder and CTO at Rule, LLC. Par has over 40 years of experience in building businesses in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Throughout his career, he has founded and co-founded many technology companies in the fields of metro optical networks and communications. Through HGM, Par also holds and manages investments in evolving financial technology, health technology, and communication industries.