People are Buying YOU
There was a teacher who once told me, “No matter what you do, someone’s always watching.” This is something that most of us realize, and yet, we don’t actively think about it. That was a wise statement by the teacher, and what we should learn from it is that, aside from our personal life, it’s important to pay close attention to how we carry ourselves professionally, as well. It’s not like you have to be a saint or anything—the point is just to be ethical, and to manage your business relationships like you actually care.. and you should.
Professionals are People, Too
Your business relationships, obviously, are not unlike the rest of your relationships, and you should approach them as such. First of all, it requires work on your part; you can’t neglect your business connections and expect them to thrive. Instead, the key to keeping these connections healthy is to maintain them—stay in touch, say hello once in a while (even if they aren’t doing the same), and respond to communication from these people, promptly. The object is to treat fellow professionals well, even if they aren’t important to you now, because you may need their help one day.
Relationships Lead to a Thriving Network
And that becomes the payoff: Good business relationships eventually transform into a network of people from whom you can pull inspiration and resources. Once you’ve built strong, lasting relationships with quality people, you now have an active network that you can use. Good people are always the key ingredient. If you’re wondering why your project hasn’t gotten off the ground–scroll through your contacts. Is there someone you know who could’ve helped the success of your project? Why not take advantage of the skills of a colleague who is probably more than willing to help? Chances are, they are probably waiting for a chance to be involved in something that lets them do what they are good at.
Strength in Variety
Just as in a diverse group of friends, when it comes to your professional network—there is strength in numbers. Yes, it’s difficult to keep up with all those people, but it’s immensely advantageous to maintain as many of your business contacts as possible. Everyone in your network has different specialties, skills, strengths, as well as their own resources that you can tap into when you need them. An important project may succeed through collaboration, where it may have otherwise failed.
It’s good to keep in mind that this is a community. You can’t just ask everyone you know to do things for you, to help your business succeed, and then never speak to them again. The ideal of business ethics teaches us that instead of using each other only for personal gain, we take something with the promise of giving back (and vice versa).
It Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person
All of this may seem like a selfish tactic—like you’re using people—but you have to remember that you are not the only one who stands to benefit from these relationships. As with any successful friendship, there is mutual gain for both parties, as you rely on each other for support. While you have a network of people to draw from, they also have you in their own networks. It’s a give-and-take. It’s not usury if you give back; giving back is what keeps us honest.
Making new contacts is great, but those relationships must be maintained, as well. This post provides a few simple ways to stay connected:
5 Quick Ways to Maintain Your Business Contacts
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.