7 Steps To Maintain Business Relationships

By Jamie Birt

Updated February 15, 2022 | Published March 22, 2021

Updated February 15, 2022

Published March 22, 2021

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

Building connections with other business professionals is an important part of advancing your career. While some relationships come naturally, business relationships tend to take more time and effort. Depending on the business, you may need strong connections ranging from customers and clients to suppliers, buyers, media or even competitors. By showing that you are invested in your professional connections, you can open yourself up to new opportunities. In this article, we discuss the importance of business relationships and share ways to maintain them.

Related: Complete Guide to Building Relationships at Work

What are business relationships?

Business relationships are the connections you make with other professionals. They may also involve connections you need to make with important customers or stakeholders in order to be successful. There are many different kinds of business relationships, and they all can serve you in unique ways. Here are some common business relationships that are important to maintain:

  • Employee relationships: These are the relationships you make with those who work for you. Having strong relationships with your staff is an important part of creating a productive workforce.

  • Colleague relationships: These are the relationships you make with people you work with. Getting to know your team members and their working styles can lead to more effective collaboration in the workplace.

  • Customer relationships: These are the relationships you make with those who purchase your products or services. Since customers are what make your company profitable, they need to be an essential part of your relationship-building efforts.

  • Vendor relationships: These are the relationships you make with other businesses or professional contacts to get the goods or services you need for production. By creating these connections, you can get better materials at a lower price for your company.

  • Mentorship relationships: These are the relationships you make with people who inspire and support you. Building a relationship with someone in a high-level position can be helpful when you need career guidance and advice.

  • Peer relationships: These are the relationships you make with people in your industry or field. These relationships can be helpful when you need to collaborate with someone or gain additional perspectives.

Related: 6 Business Skills You Need and How to Improve Them

Why is it important to maintain business relationships?

Maintaining business relationships is an important part of growing in your career. When you have the ability to network with others, you can open yourself to new job opportunities and projects. Making connections with other professionals is also a good way to learn new skills, get helpful advice and gain new perspectives. Building relationships with all kinds of people can help you become more well-rounded and understanding of others.

Related: Relationship Building Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to maintain business relationships

Follow these steps to maintain better business relationships:

1. Offer value to others

While you can benefit from your business relationships, you want to make sure you are reciprocating. Keep your business relationships moving forward by ensuring you are giving as much as you are getting. You may even want to put in extra effort to show that you have value to share. By doing someone a favor now, they may feel more inclined to help you in the future.

Related: How to Succeed at Business Networking

2. Regularly check in

Keep your business relationships thriving by regularly checking in with your contacts. Consider sending them an email or text message to see how they're doing. You may even ask them to meet for lunch or a cup of coffee to catch up. When checking in, see how their professional life is going. Try to learn about any recent accomplishments or projects to show that you are interested in what they are doing. Checking in shows that you hope to keep your relationship moving forward.

3. Learn and share about goals

Discussing your career goals with your professional contacts can help you maintain your relationships. By knowing what they hope to accomplish, you can determine if there is anything you can do to help. The same can be true if you share your own goals with others. You may even discover that you have mutual goals with another person. Identifying this may lead you to work with one another or collaborate on a specific project.

4. Be yourself

If you want to create authentic relationships with others, you need to learn how to be yourself around them. By showing some personality, you can change surface-level interactions to meaningful relationships. Connect with others by showing your sense of humor or what you are passionate about. Rather than adhering to an image of yourself, show them that you are a real person too. Being yourself can help you deepen your connections and expand your possibilities.

5. Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback can help you become a better professional, and it shows people that you value their thoughts and opinions. While getting feedback from your mentors and peers is useful, it's especially important to ask your clients, employees, colleagues and vendors for feedback.

By asking clients for feedback, you can implement better business practices and get more sales. By asking employees and colleagues for feedback, you can learn to be a better employer or coworker. Finally, by asking vendors for feedback, you can learn to be a better partner and keep this important connection thriving.

6. Express your gratitude

Showing your appreciation for what others do for you is an important part of nurturing business relationships. Whether it is a verbal "thank you" or a formally written letter, people appreciate receiving gratitude for what they do for others. You can even thank someone by doing something kind for them. For instance, if your colleague helped you with an important project, you could offer to buy them lunch or help them when they are busy at work.

7. Give praise and encouragement

Let your business contacts know you are following their work by giving them praise and support. For instance, if your contact shares a project they have been working on via social media, make sure to comment something nice. You can even send them a direct message to let them know you are proud of their work. The same is true if you ever notice a colleague did something good at work. Let them know you appreciate their efforts and consider highlighting their good work to the entire company.

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