Much of the activity within a business contains a fair amount of socializing and interacting with many different people. If you’re planning to have your business or marketplace, building lasting relationships with your suppliers, vendors, and clients should be one of your many priorities. These are people that you will have more than one transaction with and you should assume that the community is quite small. It’s always a good idea to make a few friends along a journey like building a business.
If you’re someone who has kept a strictly professional relationship with the people surrounding your work, it may be time to loosen up the strains. It’s a win win situation to make friends and have a symbiotic relationship.
Of course this goes without saying in any aspect of your life. Being genuine is a lot more meaningful than throwing large numbers and name dropping. People appreciate someone who is themselves and by this time in our lives, it’s easy to spot when someone is putting up a facade for whatever reason, which can leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.
If you’re working in a specific industry, you’ll most likely cross paths with people that have similar interests and hobbies as you. Don’t be afraid to get to know them on a slightly deeper level, it makes the whole interaction that much more comfortable. We’re not talking about childhood nightmares or anything crazy. Kids, vacation, work strife are all fair game! Adding a bit of personality in your work makes it all the more enjoyable.
In order to build trust within these professional relationships there needs to be a sense of transparency. Everlane, a retail company, has an amazing work culture. Their website displays some of the most transparent work life that I’ve ever seen. You’re able to see their pricing models compared to similar brands and even inside the international warehouses. Everlane practicing such transparent values has gained respect from many industries.
Now you don’t have to go recording the inner workings of your business just to be considered transparent. It’s just being able to be honest with your suppliers, clients, etc… about problems or advancements. Bad news is always better heard from the source. It’s back to the whole respect thing, if you’re honest about issues the other party will understand.
Share Common Goals.
All businesses have goals and all clients have needs. You as the marketplace owner play a part in a cycle of business transactions. Your goal may be to increase product sales by 15% within the next year while your supplier is looking to sell 10% more product. Having this common goal provides a good incentive for both of you to work harder for each other.
On the other end of the business cycle of B2C, your goals are your client’s goals. This is a little trickier and takes more time. Listen to your clients. What is working and what can be improved? Your aims should be to provide the best possible experience for them during the time spent on your site. Do surveys, read reviews, or add a suggestion box. Any efforts that can be made on improving the user experience should be tested.
Social Media Doesn’t Replace Networking.
Social media has become world to share your thoughts and experiences to your friends. But if you look at your friends list on Instagram, Facebook, or even LinkedIn can you really say that you are actually friends with half of these people?
Sending a quick request to relevant people has become common practice but once you get accepted, all interaction stops in its tracks. Don’t be afraid to take the next steps and ask someone for a quick coffee. I’ve seen this happen and it happens a lot more than you think! Social media has created this funny digital world that makes you believe you’re connected but sending a “like” really doesn’t mean much. So get out there and do some real networking. There are always events going on and people to meet that can help you grow.
Do A Non-Work Related Activity.
Sometimes it’s hard to segway a professional relationship into a real friendship. You may be scared of being rejected or considered “weird” for asking some cool work buddies to hang out over the weekend. But doing this can help build a great office culture that can make work more productive.
This idea goes up and down the entire business chain. I’m sure you’ve met people at a party or event and you immediately click. At this point you’re thinking, “Wow we are so similar, we’d make great friends”, but you don’t take that leap and get their number or tag. I’m saying, take that chance! Who knows, you’ll find a great friend and even broader potential network.
Whether it’s the postman or your biggest client, everyone plays a role in your business activities. Be sure to foster these relationships properly and genuinely. Keep in touch and have active conversations, you never know who’ll be able to lend a helping hand in the future!