Want to get ahead in business? It’s all about relationships

We are often asked about our top tips for success in the commercial world and ours are all about relationships.

In uncertain financial times, attracting new business can be something of a challenge but taking the care to maintain good relationships with existing customers is easier to achieve while being just as vitally important. It’s cost-effective, too, as the only outlay is your time.

Here is our advice as to how to keep your professional relationships happy, healthy and in good order. (Sorry, but we can’t advise you on the inter-personal stuff, but we understand a bunch of flowers often works wonders).

Remember to keep in touch, even after you have provided a service. Ask them for feedback as this approach to customer care speaks volumes about how you go about your work and your commitment to your clients. Who knows, you may learn about potential new business opportunities while talking to them. If your communication has been mainly by letter or email, pick up the phone for a real conversation.

Everyone appreciates the personal touch so be on-the-ball if people contact you. Supply customers with regular updates about how their case is going, answer any inquiries promptly and professionally and make sure you resolve any potential issues as soon as you can. Mistakes can happen but how they are tackled says a lot about your commitment to the customer and their business.

Make sure you attend networking events. Personally speaking, I don’t need asking twice to attend a wine tasting and while some of those extra-curricular evenings may seem a bit of a chore, business is often best conducted face-to-face. Don’t restrict yourself to the ‘old favourites’ where the same people keep turning up; step outside you comfort zone and social circle to attend different kinds of events with very different attendees who might not be your natural customer base. People you meet there might be potential customers … or know someone you may be able to help.

You should also become a resource. Helping someone out might not immediately lead to new business opportunities but when they – or someone they know – require a product or service you offer, you’ll be in their minds as a helpful font of all knowledge.

While it may seem obvious, don’t forget to be responsive and polite. By taking a friendly interest in what people are doing in and out of work, you may find that you might be of use professionally as well as personally. Remember to always thank people for their business. It’s a minor matter but it makes a world of difference. A ‘thank you’ note shows you value a customer’s business and they’ll consider using you again if they’re assured of a warm welcome and attention to detail.