How do I build business relationships?

I just got done watching Charlie Rose interview John Mack the Chairman of the Board at Morgan Stanley. I was very impressed with this man. He kept on talking about the importance of building a relationship with China before we do business with them. He suggests we go visit China, Brazil and Russia to build relationships with them. We should read books about their culture so we have a better understanding of their culture before we move in to do business. So I was reminded of the importance of relationship in business; especially the web business. I purchased a SitePoint book a few years back the discusses building relationships with business people. Perhaps going out for breakfast or meeting for lunch once a month… So my question to you, is, what can I do in order to build stronger relationships with business people?

What worked for me was to do a few small jobs to demonstrate that I was qualified for whatever the person wanted me to do. That combined with my honesty and good character helped me build up my network. Make sure to give out your contact information if you trust the person you plan to work with (I prefer using a business card but that might be too old-fashioned now).

Wow, what happened to the old timers responses? Have I reached my zenith in mega threads?

Show them that you are genuinely interested in them and their business and will work to help them meet their objectives and goals.

Buy Bob Berg’s book (say THAT 3x fast!) “Endless Referrals” and follow his excellent advice.

I’ll second Linda’s advice too. Be interested in your prospects and clients and ask questions about their business and what their needs are - as opposed to many salespeople who just want to sell their solutions without taking time to see if it makes sense for the business.


As mentioned, you should take an active interest in your clients business. I would go further and say that you should value their success as your own in order to build that reputation.

It sounds a bit wishy-washy, but at the end of the day you’re selling a business solution, not a bunch of files on a web server. Businesses want to know that they are getting their moneys worth in hiring you and if you can convince them that your work is worth the price that they are paying, and that you’re actively trying to increase their profits then they’ll be happy to forge a relationship with you.

:lol: :rofl:

This doesn’t work because people don’t care. They just care about making money. If you can help them do that, which is all they care about, then you will have a great business relationship until the next big deal comes along. Business is no place to make friends.

Such a cynical attitude is not rooted in reality. Anyone who is experienced in business knows that in most cases, the exact opposite is true. The desire to make money drives business, but personal relationships drive the majority of sales, partnerships, and other acticities.

I work with my partner because I like working with him and we work well together. It’s possible that another partner could make me more money, sure, but so be it. I love my accountant. He’s become a friend over the years.

And rather than such robotic, greed-based decision making in the business world we see an abundance of cronyism at the top levels. This indicates that people like to do business that benefits their friends monetarily rather than exclusively looking at the bottom line without regard to relationships.

The most important point is that the attitude that you mention just doesn’t work in most cases. Business requires that you maintain and build relationships, and that skill is generally an important one.

I think you may have watched too many Wall St. movies!

Another Designer, you are wise to consider how to punch up your business relationships. It will most likely serve you well.

First, I agree with all of the others who agreed with me. :smiley:

However, you are right in that your clients don’t care about YOUR business. In fact, most people don’t care about what you know, what you do, or what you have except that in how it benefits them.

Showing a genuine interest in your clients’ businesses will help you learn what resources of yours (what you know, what you do, what you have) can be used to their benefit. When you can show your value to your clients, you WILL build strong business relationships.

@Sagewing, of course business partners are different to clients, I was referring to my experience with clients and as an employee. If you start a business together with someone then you should have the same passion. However I am sure your accountant loves the business you keep giving them.

Don’t expect a friendship from every client or even half. They love you and leave you and wont send a postcard. They will come running back when they need something though.

It works both ways though :wink: all depends on your attitude as well. Don’t pretend to care if you don’t. A little honesty is worth more than any amount of “nice”.

I don’t believe anyone here said anything about “nice”. The word I used was genuine. If you are in a service business, or for that matter, any business just to make money, you are in the wrong business.

I especially like what Ultimate said “Value their success as your own.”

Whether as an employee or a business owner, if your only reason for working is to collect the check, that attitude will show in your work. If you can’t show real interest in what you do, then move on and do something else.

And what percentage of your family and friends do what they love? I hope you preach to them the same message.

You could try the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People

If you are not interested in a person, don’t bother. You shouldn’t need to try hard for a relationship to build. If you don’t get along with someone, or just get by with hello there is nothing wrong with that. Time is always a factor in relationships of any sort.

Becoming a very attractive business provider always helps.

You bet I do, but if you read through my posts you won’t see anything about “loving what I do”. You don’t have to love your job to want to do well in it.
I can certainly see your problem though. Try to understand someone else’s message without twisting their words and redefining what they say. You and your clients and other contacts will both be happier for your effort.


puts head down

Lots of clients don’t care. Lot’s of employers don’t care.
Lot’s of people are cynical like NetNerd85.

And yet there are tons of healthy and friendly business relationships out there that are founded in business but have evolved to be more than that. I have clients who I’m certain wouldn’t just walk away and never look back if there wasn’t money involved. There is a real estate developer in Thailand with whom I did a botched deal about 10 years ago (which cost us both money and hassle because of my own mistake) and we are still friends today. My accountant knows that I will probably stop using him next year for a variety of reasons and we are still friendly - I will still go visit him and his family when I’m in Louisiana.

I’m not saying that the cold-hard realities of business aren’t real. But human nature is powerful and to take such a hard line view of how business relationships work is kind of sad.

:lol: my post was cynical, I’m not a cynical person. Just because you do business with someone doesn’t automatically make you friends. There is a huge difference between being friendly and being friends.

Are you in business to make money or friends? could be both or none depending on what you want but generally I think it’s safe to say money over friends. I’m saying focus on giving people what they want, not trying to be someone’s best mate. If you grow to be friends, or lovers or whatever, great…

Yes, money over friends in general.

But, people are people and they tend to form relationships, be loyal, care about others, and otherwise express human nature. So, it’s unusual for anyone to be 100% business and most people who are successful in business have many, many strong personal relationships that are part of their overall business structures.