Without care and effort, relationships often fade away, particularly in the business world. If you want to have strong relationships, you have to invest the time it takes to build and to maintain them. Here are 7 tips to help you do that.

Build trust.The key to building trust is being honest and dependable. On the flipside, the quickest way to ruin a relationship and build a bad reputation is by lying or omitting the truth, and by not keeping your word.

Listen more than you speak. Listening is the greatest sign of respect. It’s impossible to build a relationship with someone who is focused solely on themself. Listening is key to building trust with one’s customers, employees and peers. Listening also helps you avoid costly and embarrassing mistakes. In the project management world, if one member of a team doesn’t listen to instructions, an entire project could fail.

To improve your listening skills, give the other person your full attention and maintain eye contact. When he or she is done speaking, ask questions to gain a better understanding. You may even want to rephrase the person’s remarks and ask them if you are understanding them correctly. Jotting down a few notes after your conversation also can be useful.


Celebrate successes. If a customer or colleague gets a promotion, receives an award or announces they’re getting married or having a child, take time to congratulate them by sending them a note, taking them to lunch or simply saying, “congratulations!”

Stay in contact. It’s near impossible to build or maintain a relationship with someone if you never interact with them. If the person is indeed important to you, then make it a point to check in with them every month or so, have a cup of coffee or just give them a quick call. While there’s no substitute for in-person networking, social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can be great ways to stay connected

Network. Networking is the key to building new relationships. You may want to consider joining the Chamber of Commerce, a Rotary group or signing on to help with a non-profit. The important thing is to choose an activity that you’ll find interesting so you’ll be more engaged.

Work hard. People want to invest in someone who is going to provide results. When someone asks for something, give a little more than expected. It takes effort to build relationships with bosses, colleagues, friends, and family, and having a strong professional reputation will definitely help.

Be helpful. Many people want to build relationships so that they can have someone to help them out when they need it. Try to have a less Machiavellian attitude. Always think about how you can help people in your network. If they know they can count on you, they’ll be far more likely to return a favor.

Offer relevant and mutually beneficial introductions. Provide advice, expertise or feedback. Share information such as events, articles or research that may be helpful.

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Bridget Waller

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