7 Steps to Building Successful Business Relationships

Succeeding in business, particularly in a specialized modern economy, is about 25 percent due to your skills, technical knowledge and expertise in your field. But, about 75 percent is your ability to build and maintain good relationships with the people you work with.

This includes your co-workers, your boss, your customers, your vendors, your prospects, your fans, other leaders in your industry and leaders in complementary fields… your success is mostly about the relationships you build with these people.

Building better relationships is what business is about, so here are 7 tips to help you do that:


You may have heard it said that “People don’t care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.” It couldn’t be truer. At the other end of the scale is square. I give you a product or service. You pay me. Now we’re square. Even Steven.

Many businesses have that attitude, and it’s wrong. The people with the humanity to care about the other person, about their experience, about making the world a better place for them, those are the ones we remember.


Respect is about empathy – seeing things from the other person’s side and putting yourself in their shoes, and acknowledging that their point of view is valid.

Respecting someone else’s time, their interests, their motives, their values, their hang-ups, means listening all the way, understanding them completely, and meeting them on their terms as much and as graciously as you can.


No one does business without trust. It is an essential ingredient for people to work together and can involve any sum of time, money, energy, and emotion. The more of these that are at stake, the more trust is necessary.

Trust is built a little bit at a time, but can all be dashed away at once. Build trust by trusting the other person first; it could be the smartest move you make. When you show someone your trust early on, they will trust you in return, and it could be the quickest way to learn if they are indeed trustworthy.


People love people who are generous, and love to do business with generous people. Generosity doesn’t mean giving your product away at half-price. That’s the lazy way to try to increase sales volume, and the worst part about the race to the bottom is, you might win.

Generosity means doing the emotional work to make your product or service more special. It means going the extra mile so your customer has the best experience, instead of merely a good one. Not because it’s good for business (which it is), but because you really care.


Never lie to a customer. Never lie to a co-worker. Never lie to a boss. Never lie to a vendor. Just never do it. Honesty is the best policy. You make yourself weaker when you lie. Relationships can be poisoned with even a little lie, even if the other person never finds out you lied.

Commercial exchanges involve risk and trust to such a high degree that you cannot afford to tarnish your character and your reputation with deceit. That doesn’t mean you should spill your guts and share inappropriate things just because they’re true. Just don’t ever lie.


Taking the importance of honesty a step further: keep it real with the people you work with; level with them when you think someone’s idea isn’t such a good one, or you think you are being treated unfairly, or you think something is amiss, or something doesn’t make sense.

Going on quietly and sheepishly just to avoid making waves will be corrosive to your emotional well-being and the people you are doing business with will miss out on your valuable insights. People will respect you if you respectfully and professionally always speak your mind.


People love to win-win-win. That is a situation in which two parties, with seemingly opposed interests, find an arrangement in which their interests are aligned and they both win; and the overall organization or industry wins as well.

If you can consistently use your mind to negotiate win-win-win scenarios out of conflicts in business, the business world will stand on its head for you. That’s what good business is all about: Taking whatever’s right in front of you and making it a little bit better for everyone.