Building Lasting Professional Relationships

A healthy relationship in a corporate environment is a big deal. It is one of those fundamental elements that separate successful businesses from struggling ones; fast growing start ups from stagnant ones and high productive employees from their colleagues. Yes! It is that important! Perhaps you may have come across terms like "Joint Ventures", "Mergers", "Partnerships", among others. Strong relationships make them happen.

Like other forms of relationships, healthy relationships with colleagues, partners and customers do not just happen overnight. It takes deliberate actions to sustain them.

How then can you achieve this?

Communicate often

Even though holidays are great opportunities to extend goodwill messages, look out for when someone within your professional network is celebrating an accomplishment and extend congratulatory messages to that person. You can also communicate information (new reports or research) your contact will find useful. The trick is to want them to remember you as someone who is thoughtful and resourceful so that in the event of an opportunity, you become their go-to-guy.

Focus on giving

Most times we seek new networks for what we can receive. What if we focus more on ways we can be of benefit to them? Offer unsolicited help where you can and do not hold back when your help is genuinely solicited for. Giving provides lasting satisfaction and fulfillment to the receiver as much as it does the giver.

Have integrity

Integrity is one of the bedrocks of a strong business relationship. A prospective business partner would want to know if you can be trusted before he collaborates with you on a project. Same way a prospective customer wants to be sure that your products are of high quality and that your attractive adverts are not misleading. In the work place, employers expect to trust you with confidential company secrets. Act in integrity at all times in all your relationships, because just like Enron Corporation (remember the Enron Scandal of 2001), many other great businesses have collapsed from lack of integrity.

Keep an open mind

Most of the people you work with will not share same beliefs as you. Rather than focus on areas of conflict, build on areas you do agree on. To ensure a working relationship with them, you need to be tolerant and receptive. A receptive mind appreciates new ideas; encourages feedback and handles ego-crushing criticisms in a good way. More so, people are naturally inclined to share ideas with anyone who doesn't take all the credit alone. Be intentional about acknowledging networks whose ideas contributed to your success.

Strong working professional relationships are worth a lot and, require a whole lot to maintain too. As you work towards connecting with your networks, make sure to pursue the ones you are certain is worth your time and resources.