The key to any successful business is developing a strong network of business relationships. Every relationship will serve various purposes, but the core of those relationships become the foundation for lasting success. When looking to develop this network, it is pivotal that you recognize the strength of genuine connection. It is easy to allow your differences to become stumbling blocks toward potential business relationships, but when you recognize the strengths of this network, you will see the unlimited potential of your reach. This gives you the permission to specialize in your own field with intention, while supporting the work of those in your realm of influence.
Look Around You
You might be at square one: How do I find a network of businesses or business people worth building a network with? The first step here would be to look around you. In your field, who do you continually run alongside? Maybe you’ve become acquainted through advertising, or at a conference or business seminar. Start to find businesses that you aspire to partner with. Make a list and itemize the aspects of their offerings that entice you toward their business.
Offer Your Services
Don’t limit this list to your top 5 desired partnerships. Think of business relationships like fishing. You may be waiting in open water for a while, but with diligence and patience, you will find your catch. The next step is to start making those connections. But before you start to cold call these businesses, dispel your comparison meter and make a point to provide your offerings to them in return. Without a developed relationship, any call from another business can make others defensive. So dispel that tension by recognizing what they are doing well and providing your services to them if they ever need it.
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From these efforts, you may have a short list of interested business owners, who may not fully know you, but know what you offer and that you are willing to contribute to their business. With those superficial connections made, now you can begin to activate this network by forwarding business to them. A perfect example of this is seen in the medical field. You may be the #1 podiatrist in the world, but if your patient is in need of brain surgery, you would be doing them a disservice to offer your services. The best way to develop a network of lasting business relationships is to actively refer clients to these other businesses. This further communicates your security in what you do and assures your clients that you have their best interests at heart. Naturally, when you become an active referrer of these other businesses, they will rightfully acknowledge your support by returning the favor. This is when you begin a cross-referral partnership. What once was friendly business practice, now becomes an intentional business choice. Clients want to know that they can trust you with their business. These relationships expand your reach into a wider range of potential clients and shows that you are supportive of other businesses in the process.
You are only as strong as your network of businesses. The better we deliberately make these lasting connections, the stronger we are in our business. Now more than ever we know that we have to stick together. The more we can work together to mobilize our network and innovate new solutions to these newly discovered challenges, the more we can break through this troubling time.
Stay True To Yourself
Lastly, when developing lasting relationships, the most important word of advice (that goes all the way back to grade school) is to remain true to yourself. When you lead authentically with your true self and your core values, you might get a quick no, but will save yourself from an oblivious yes, leading to unmet expectations and disappointment. Base these working relationships on shared goals and values, and watch the limitless potential arise.
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