Many professionals and business owners go about networking and building business relationships the wrong way. Passing out business cards and blindly pitching things or asking for favors from people you met only once is frustrating, impersonal and ineffective. If you're guilty of doing just that, it's time to build a better network of business contacts.
According to Rob Begg, vice president of relationships analytic platform Introhive, one of the biggest mistakes professionals make in business relationships is reaching out to contacts only when they need something.
So, how do you build maintain better business relationships? Begg shared these four tips.
Ask for favors the right way
When reaching out to a business connection, it's important to make it personal. Be sure to tell them why you're coming to them specifically, Begg said. For example, a statement like, "I understand that you know a lot about this topic, and I was wondering if you can help me," can work well because people like to be recognized for their expertise and knowledge and are more likely to help you if you do so, Begg said. Otherwise, he added, people just feel used. [7 Networking Tips for Job Seekers ]
Give people an out
Beyond telling a business connection what you're asking for and why you're specifically reaching out to them, it's important to offer them an out, too.
"Giving them that out, rather than implying it, disarms people and gives them comfort," Begg said.
In other words, don't be overly demanding, and give them a chance to pass the buck to someone else, Begg said. Pressuring someone to respond or follow through with a favor won't get you anywhere.
Get into a habit
"Really successful salespeople train themselves to get in a habit of connecting and contacting people who don't have an immediate need. Be a really good curator of content. Prioritize people and relationships based on your last date of contact," Begg said.
Begg's tip for staying in touch? Social media makes the whole process much easier and quicker, so follow your contacts on Twitter and LinkedIn. A short comment can really go a long way, Begg said, and people appreciate it because it gives them an opportunity to engage.
One of the most frustrating things for salespeople, Begg said, is dead silence. In other words, when you reach out to a contact and don't get a response. This, Begg said, is likely because you don't have the appropriate request at the appropriate time.
Even if you don't have the time to respond to something or deal with a request right away, make sure you find some way to reciprocate, Begg said. It's important, he noted, that whether you're a giver or a receiver in a particular instance that you remember what it's like to be on the other side.
"Get back to thinking about it regularly, rather than thinking about it when you need something," Begg said.
Originally published on Business News Daily.