To the Point

3 Ways to Build Business Relationships

Making meaningful business connections in the digital age.

Do you have something to say? These days, there’s no shortage of quick and easy ways to get our message out to industry colleagues. Whether we want to contact one person directly — or broadcast to the masses — we can text, email, tweet, post to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube — the list goes on. Whatever the platform, our words and images make it to the digital world with lightning speed.

But are we really connecting with anyone? Do we really know who they are, and vice versa? Are you cultivating meaningful business relationships to enhance your sales, your organization’s goals, and your career? 

A 2003 Gallup report showed that “regardless of how high a company’s customer satisfaction levels may appear to be, satisfying customers without creating an emotional connection with them has no real value. None at all.” That’s a pretty strong assertion. But I would argue that it also rings true when it comes to relationships with clients, as well as coworkers, boards, volunteers, suppliers, and many others. And that the need for real connection has only increased as our ability to communicate digitally has expanded exponentially.

To make our business relationships meaningful, we’ve got to connect emotionally with people. We can’t just shake hands at a networking reception, or collect “likes” and followers. Our digital communication and our face-to-face interactions need to be authentic and deeper than we may have grown accustomed to. Otherwise, we’re just a generic profile picture in the crowd.

Yes, it’s a nice sentiment to send someone a “Happy Birthday” message. But it’s more meaningful to remember a challenge they mentioned the last time you talked and then send them a link to an article you come across that offers some solutions, whether it relates to your line of business or not. Taking the time to pick up the phone and call someone — when you both know it would be easier and faster to message him or her — also goes a long way.

What are some other ways to build business relationships and improve the way you connect with others?

1. Listen moreToo often, communication is equated with talking. But communication is a two-way street. You’ll gain much more by talking less and listening more.

2. Ask questionsThink of yourself as a detective. You might have to dig a little deeper to get to the heart of an issue or who a colleague really is.

3. Be authenticDon’t put on the façade of an easygoing sales professional or all-knowing executive. We all make mistakes and are unsure of ourselves sometimes. People will likely relate to the “real you” better.

How do you strive to make meaningful connections in the digital age? This is a great opportunity to share ideas with your social networks, and then put them into practice one meaningful relationship at a time.

Healthy Design

When it comes to making the right kinds of emotional connections with patients, the U.S. health-care system needs redesigning, according to Stacey Chang, executive director of the University of Texas at Austin’s new Design Institute for Health. In fact, he tells Convene, hospitals should take a page from the hospitality industry. Hear what other parallels Chang — who will present a Thought Leaders session at PCMA Convening Leaders 2017 in Austin — draws between medicine, medical meetings, and design.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.