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How to build and maintain professional relationships
How can you build and maintain professional relationships?
In this article, we've gathered 16 top tips on building and maintaining professional relationships from a variety of experts, including life coaches, CEOs, and founders. From leveraging LinkedIn for connections to remembering birthdays to enhance bonds, these insights will help you cultivate and maintain your professional network. Read on to learn more from these industry leaders.
- Leverage LinkedIn for Connections
- Cherish Individuality in Relationships
- Prioritize Authentic Connections
- Make a Strong First Impression
- Strengthen Bonds With Thank You Notes
- Diversify Your Business Network
- Regularly Share Engaging Content
- Stay Connected and Share Experiences
- Foster Authenticity in Professional Relationships
- Join Local Business Groups and Meet-ups
- Manage Your Professional Expectations
- Establish Trust Through Clear Communication
- Cultivate Empathy and Active Listening
- Enjoy In-Person Networking
- Use Calendar Alerts for Regular Check-ins
- Remember Birthdays to Enhance Bonds
Leverage LinkedIn for Connections
I've found LinkedIn to be the key to building and maintaining professional relationships. It's not just about connecting, but also about actively engaging—leaving comments and sharing insightful posts.
For instance, I once sent a DM to an influencer in my field, sharing my thoughts on one of their podcasts. This exchange eventually led to a collaboration in a joint interview.
Another valuable strategy is inviting your personal connections to live webinars you're hosting, which can cause more engaging and in-depth discussions for your audience.
Cherish Individuality in Relationships
Building and maintaining professional relationships lies in recognizing and cherishing the individuality of each person you work with. Every single person brings a unique set of experiences, perspectives, and strengths to the table, and it's through genuine curiosity about these qualities that deep and meaningful relationships can be forged.
As a Sales Manager, my role may primarily involve discussing targets and strategies, but there is always an opportunity to delve deeper into the person behind the professional. It could be as simple as asking about their weekend, their hobbies, or their family. And it's not about just asking; it's about actively listening and showing genuine interest in their responses.
These deeper connections facilitate better collaboration, as people are more invested in those they truly connect with. And who knows, you might end up learning something new and exciting from these conversations, broadening your own horizons in the process.
Prioritize Authentic Connections
As a CEO, my best tip for building and maintaining professional relationships is to prioritize authentic and genuine connections. Building meaningful relationships requires a genuine interest in others, active listening, and fostering mutual trust and respect. Here are a few key strategies that can help:
Be a proactive communicator: Regular and effective communication is essential for building and maintaining professional relationships. Be proactive in reaching out to colleagues, partners, and clients, whether it's through face-to-face meetings, phone calls, or digital platforms. Keep them informed, share updates, and respond to their needs and inquiries.
Show empathy and active listening: Take the time to truly understand the perspectives, concerns, and aspirations of others. Practice active listening by giving your full attention, asking thoughtful questions, and acknowledging their viewpoints.
Make a Strong First Impression
Put serious effort into your first impression. Hold eye contact, repeat their name more than once, and listen actively to their story and what they do. Ask two questions about them before you offer any information outside your name.
I have found that instead of worrying about what a contact thinks of me when we first meet or how to present myself best, it’s better and more fruitful to focus on them for a minute.
Taking yourself out of the mental conversation for a second is actually grounding. I find I’m more present when I meet new people, and they’re more engaged in speaking with me and learning more about who I am.
To this day, the first impression sets a standard for your business relationship. Within five minutes, you can understand the nature of your potential relationship with a person (or lack thereof). If they could benefit your business, you’re positioned all the better for showing your genuine interest in them and their livelihood.
Strengthen Bonds With Thank You Notes
For building and maintaining professional relationships, one unusual tactic I would recommend is taking the time to write a thank you note. In today's world of electronic communication, it's easy to forget how nice a handwritten personal message can make someone feel.
Taking the time to express your gratitude in letter form shows that you truly appreciated their effort and engagement—which will foster stronger relationships over time.
Diversify Your Business Network
My best tip for building professional relationships is to diversify. Make your business network as broad as possible. You never know whether someone will become a valuable acquaintance in trying times.
When networking, I don't limit myself to higher-level executives. I also communicate with young entrepreneurs. They are full of fresh and innovative ideas, and I can truly learn from them.
Regularly Share Engaging Content
I make a regular habit of grabbing stories, videos, or pictures online and shooting out a quick note to professional colleagues and friends. I'll usually send it by email, WhatsApp, or Slack. Via email, I automatically schedule a three-month follow-up using the Google snooze feature.
It's a great way to catch up without a specific agenda. Just this week I sent an international news story, a recipe, and a LinkedIn post.
Stay Connected and Share Experiences
There are two things that help maintain good professional relationships: regular contact and the ability to share and be useful. The professional environment consists not only of your colleagues but also includes the community (for example, lawyers, entrepreneurs).
Look for people with similar profiles on social networks, communicate with them, join groups, and attend events. Do not be lazy and share your experience, tell about your achievements, and your journey (e.g. how you've opened a branch office or dealt with complex paperwork), or post contacts of good specialists.
In such communities, you will learn something useful for yourself. To grow your professional network online, consider using automation. There is no harm in doing that: this way you will quickly add a great deal of specialists to your profile to your 1st connections. You can even like their posts automatically. And can carry on further communication in person.
Foster Authenticity in Professional Relationships
For robust and enduring professional relationships, my number one piece of advice is authenticity. It’s about being truthful in your words, transparent in your actions, and genuine in your conduct.
Authenticity goes beyond the services you offer. It touches on your personal values and approaches to challenges. It fosters trust, the cornerstone of any professional relationship.
At Authors On Mission, we embody authenticity in our rapport with authors. We genuinely engage with their stories and goals, fostering durable relationships that drive mutual success.
Join Local Business Groups and Meet-ups
In professional relationships, joining local tech meet-ups and business groups like the Chamber of Commerce is a powerful tool. Such gatherings provide a potent intersection of diverse business professionals and tech enthusiasts. For those in the digital marketing industry, they serve as an ideal platform for making meaningful connections and also staying abreast with the latest trends.
To reap the full benefits of these groups, it's essential to be more than just a passive participant. Attend meetings regularly, engage in discussions, share your expertise, and consider taking on leadership roles when opportunities are present.
This proactive approach heightens your visibility and positions you as a valuable contributor. It facilitates the creation of long-lasting, mutually beneficial professional relationships grounded in shared interests and reciprocal respect. This isn't about mere networking; it's about fostering substantial connections that stand the test of time.
Manage Your Professional Expectations
Human beings are naturally inclined to reciprocate. That’s how business works, and how our personal relationships work. However, if you expect something in return for every single thing you do that benefits someone else, that creates a sense of being owed and can get messy quickly.
When you are building and maintaining professional relationships, do not expect to get something in return for doing someone a favor unless it was explicitly stated before you did the thing. Manage your expectations. Plus, you’ll be able to identify one-sided relationships quickly and get out of them.
Establish Trust Through Clear Communication
Communicating clearly and actively listening to others is the greatest advice for establishing and sustaining positive working relationships. Put dependability first by keeping promises and accepting responsibility.
Create a name for yourself in the business world as someone who is consistently willing to lend a hand. Take part in online and offline communities to increase your own network and the number of others you can help.
Always treat others with kindness and attention, praising others' successes, and showing empathy. Trust, cooperation, and professional development are all fostered by these actions.
Cultivate Empathy and Active Listening
Actively listening and committing to understanding your colleagues' needs, motivations, and challenges can do wonders for your relationship, so look to put yourself in their shoes to develop a sense of empathy and why they go about business a certain way.
For starters, cultivate active listening. When engaging in conversations, be fully present and attentive. Listen to the words being spoken and to the underlying emotions and concerns. By actively listening, you show you value the other person's perspective.
We all know that everyone likes to be agreed with, but even more so, wants to be heard and understood. So aim to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Consider their background, experiences, and current circumstances. This helps you better understand their motivations, challenges, and aspirations while your relationship will flourish to new heights.
Enjoy In-Person Networking
I enjoy in-person networking when possible, as it allows me to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships. While online events are great for introductions, meeting someone in person leaves a lasting impression.
You're more able to let your personality, professionalism, and charisma shine through. And this is crucial for building trust as it can open doors to new opportunities, partnerships, or even friendships that may not have occurred through online networking alone.
As many of us continue to work from home, getting out there for some real-life face time can boost your confidence and keep your social skills sharp.
Use Calendar Alerts for Regular Check-ins
Maintaining a good professional relationship is a game of touchpoints. It is very easy to drift apart and completely lose a professional relationship. Therefore, adding some reminders to my calendar to check in with specific people, while artificial, is very helpful for keeping that relationship alive.
It doesn't have to be super frequent, but a calendar alert to check in and say hey once a quarter usually does the trick.
Remember Birthdays to Enhance Bonds
A unique yet effective tip for maintaining professional relationships is: remembering birthdays! On this special day, everyone appreciates a heartfelt message, turning flattery from mere pleasantry to an expression of genuine care.
This simple gesture can significantly enhance the bond you share. Despite many birthday notifications from platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, these platforms can sometimes be unreliable or just too busy with other notifications.
To ensure you never miss these important dates, it's good practice to record the birthdays of key connections in your task management app—because a personalized touch on a personal day can go a long way!