Developing strong relationships is crucial for success in business and is something that involves several factors of which I would argue that the most important is trust. It is a component of integrity and confidence and forms the basis of both personal and business relationships since it relies on others knowing that you are who you say you are and that you do what you say you will do as the essential criteria for trust.
It is well known that building trust takes time and effort while losing it takes a single instance of breach. Trust is a two-way relationship that enriches your life and in my experience opens up new opportunities. Here I go through a few behaviours I find helpful in building trust with my business colleagues and contacts:
Communicate openly and effectively
Honest and effective communication is crucial for all trusting and successful relationships. This includes both conveying your messages clearly and listening to others. Where there is a lack of communication, misunderstanding seeps in and relationships can fall apart. In a business context effective communication is particularly pertinent to agreements where all parties should be clear about what exactly has been agreed to. Good communication is also important when difficulties arise in a relationship, as they often do, and a frank conversation must be had rather than avoided.
Be honest about your vulnerabilities
Showing rather than covering up vulnerabilities is a great way of creating and accelerating trust as it allows your relationship to grow deeper more quickly. Exposing your flaws and weaknesses is a demonstration of your trust in those you share with and you will quickly find out if it is taken advantage of. A well known case of this is when Starbucks founder Howard Schultz returned as CEO to revive the struggling company in 2008. He stood up at an all-company meeting to confess that the Starbucks leadership had failed its employees and families which as a moment of vulnerability turned out to be the beginning of the company’s turnaround and subsequent success.
I find it a great demonstrator of trust when someone is consistent in their actions. Meeting commitments, whether that’s arriving on-time to meetings, fulfilling promises or completing work to agreed deadlines allows other people to believe you when you say you will do something.
In today’s digital world it is very easy to communicate and conduct business online and over the phone but I think face-to-face meetings shouldn’t be underestimated. Meeting business contacts in person allows for candid conversation and shows people that you value your relationship with them enough to make time to sit down and give them your full attention.
Be generous with your time and help
Having built a strong relationship you shouldn’t take it for granted. This means nurturing your relationships and not just calling on contacts when you need their help. I find that offering to help others in a way that provides no direct benefit to myself builds their trust in me – from which I derive benefit.
In my business of connecting people and facilitating deals trust is at the heart of all that I do so I hope you found this article useful and that you can apply it to your own business relationships. Please let me know if you enjoyed reading it by leaving a comment. I very much appreciate it.