Growth & Customers

One secret to a thriving business: Invest in your relationships

Building relationships with customers

When is the last time you thought about maintaining and nurturing your business relationships? We know that strong relationships can have a big impact on your business, but many people often don’t understand their importance or how to best form and maintain them. So, we caught up with Keith Ferrazzi, a recognized global thought leader in relational and collaborative sciences and founder of Ferrazzi Greenlight to get his unique take.

In his bestselling book, Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi explains that he discovered early in life that what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships so that everyone wins. Here, Ferrazzi talks about how to use relationship building to transform your business and elevate your career.

Why are good customer relationships vital to businesses?

Because that’s where success is won or lost. There aren’t the wildly divergent quality levels as there have been in the past, so business is now being done on the level where you work with the people you like. By tending to those relationships, whether it’s internal with a teammate or external with a customer or vendor, you’ll always be top of mind for those people. They’ll be more open and willing to go that extra mile for you because they know you’ll do it for them.

How has relationship building and management impacted your business?

It is my business. I’m not being glib, but everything I have today, every success I’ve had throughout my career, has been a result of being able to build and maintain strong friendships. Being the first to offer assistance or advice, or an important introduction, but also being able to rely on those same relationships to support me when I needed it, even when what I needed was a swift kick and being told to stop being a jerk.

Why is relationship building, outside of your immediate network or company, important?

It comes down to feeling a sense of ownership not just for yourself and your career, but for those relationships and for their successes as well. Careers aren’t a zero-sum game. If you develop strong ties and relationships within your industry or field of expertise, you not only have a ready-made relationship waiting, but you have someone who has both an objective eye, and a working knowledge of your industry. Give those peers the chance to live up to your expectations, and help them along the way.

What is the best way for people to build and maintain relationships effectively?

People often see this as “mercenary” but relationship action plans are a great way to make sure that you are tending to your network at a level that is appropriate to the relationship. Similar to how in a family, you’re always going to have stronger ties to your spouse or children than to a cousin you knew growing up but haven’t seen in years. So why shouldn’t you have the same levels for non-familial relationships? Relationship action planning can show you where you need to venture out and expand your networks. It can also point you in the direction of those “loose ties” who can help you out. Consider, scheduling a co-hosted event with someone you may not know very well but who has complementary interests. You’ll both benefit from meeting each other’s inner circles.

Small business survival toolkit

Get your free guide, business plan template, and cash flow forecast template to help you run your business and achieve your goals.

Download your free toolkit
10,548 readers have downloaded this toolkit
Female hands working on a laptop

Subscribe to our Sage Advice Newsletter

Get our latest business advice delivered directly to your inbox.

Working from home with tea in hand