Smart entrepreneurs know that great relationships are the wind behind the sail of a successful business launch. Relationships with lenders, suppliers, customers, employees – and even competitors – can make or break a business.
Like a skilled general, a savvy business owner will master the art of winning hearts and building alliances. The reason is simple. People prefer to support and work with those they like and trust.
I held a live Q&A session with successful founders where we discussed strategies to build relationships that support and advance you forward in business. Here is their top advice:
Always Show Up and Leave Your Agenda at the Door
Kara Richardson Whitely
Kara Richardson Whitely’s philosophy is simple: Be seen and be of assistance.
She is an influencer and advisor, helping brands connect with the often-ignored plus-size market, which amounts to two-thirds of U.S. women.
“Showing up to networking events and taking the time to get to know people in a non-transactional way has led to deeper relationships and bigger opportunities.”
The body-positive triple-threat (adventurer, author, and influencer) embraces inclusivity and actively looks for ways to get to know and help the diverse cadre of movers and shakers in her growing network. Her consistent “thereness” even led to a referral for a dream project that took her all the way to Puerto Rico.
Without a doubt, Whitely’s popularity within her network keeps her business thriving.
“There’s plenty of opportunities for all of us to go around.”
Leverage Multiple Communities
Founder Rebecca Orlov credits her communities with giving her the juice to fully rebrand her marketing consultancy, Epic Playdate. These connections also helped her to onboard long-term clients and consultants for her firm. She says that meaningful involvement in her communities requires a specific kind of attention.
“I wholeheartedly invest time in my particular communities. I equally engage and inquire as well as actively listen and support.”
Orlov says that being “present, compassionate and thoughtful” is central to building successful relationships.
Simply put? Kindness counts. And her business is benefitting from the good karma she sends out amongst her communities.
“What I’m trying to get is just connection. “I feel better. I’m connecting with more people and, honestly, I’ve never been happier.”
Open Each Door as Your Full Self
Sally Wolf knows that authenticity is a magnet for abundance. The corporate wellbeing expert and founder of LightWorks empowers her clients to flourish by infusing everything they do with authenticity – and then enabling their teams to do the same.
Wolf applies this commitment to authenticity to everything she herself does, too. She describes a recent experience where she accepted an interview invitation on a LinkedIn Live, because the circumstances “felt just right.”
“My mindset wasn’t about landing a big client as a result of that interview. That’s too many steps away and would have taken me out of the present moment. Instead, my focus was on infusing upbeat, positive energy and personal authenticity throughout the conversation. I wholeheartedly trust that if we do that whenever we show up, whether reconnecting with an old colleague or meeting someone new, we will open the right doors at the right time.”
In that ideal, “just right” moment on LinkedIn Live, Wolf shone, coming across as genuine and real. She even received a cold call from one very impressed viewer.
The result? Wolf landed a five-figure-a-month dream client just by being her authentic self.
Focus on Quality Research – and Be Creative
Dayna Lapkovsky, founder of leadership community frank, describes how curious creativity helped her cement new relationships:
“When building a previous successful start-up, I hand-delivered a giant chess piece with a personalized note to 10 highly-targeted decision makers that I identified as dream clients. The total cost was around $700.”
While the financial investment was relatively modest, Lapkovsky’s investment of time was significant. She conducted detailed research to learn about her identified prospects, which helped her narrow down the 10 she thought could be a good fit.
Taking time to learn about her prospects also helped her amp up what she calls the “wow” factor in her outreach.
“I came at them with two points of ‘wow.’ The first was the element of surprise, which was the actual gift. The second part was curiosity. In that personalized note, I tapped into something that piqued their interest and demonstrated my interest in them.”
She landed meetings with a majority of her prospects, and closed 2 as clients.
“A lot of my outreach is cold, but through research, I’m able to connect and open the gateways for a greater conversation.”
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.