You may have the best product to offer or the most effective technology on the market but most people acknowledge that good relationships are essential to the success of any business. When it comes to creating new business relationship, how do you know which ones have staying power and which ones are transitory? When you reflect on the people whose paths have crossed yours over the years, do you remember how those relationships started? Did they evolve with purpose and strength or develop into an odd interpersonal-dance of personalities? How would your professional relationships progress if you considered every new business contact as a potential long-term colleague, client or vendor?
When I look back at the best professional relationship that have stood the test of time, I came up with the following ingredients that go into creating a successful long-term professional relationship:
Vision – While the vision of working together may develop over time and the needs of the business and the clients and customers can change, you both consistently work at developing the partnership. You are motivated to help each other succeed and often feel like associates in each other’s business practices.
Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate – There is no such thing as too much communication. There may not be a quarter that goes by without an email, text, call, Skype, or meet face-to-face. Meetings, check-ins, goal setting conversations and periodic update meetings happen with intention, not by accident.
Add Value – There is mutual dependence. You help each other solve problems while adding perspective.
Deadlines Matter – Even if the only people who really care about a deadline are two people who set it, deadlines are sacred. There is no question that a commitment will be honored. If something happens and a deadline has to be re-negotiated, it is but not at the last minute and never at a client’s expense.
Tell the Truth – Honesty matters. If the outcome doesn’t meet standard you are honest about the work. If it has fallen short. You are also honest (and celebratory) when an outcomes exceeds expectations.).
No Surprises – Happy surprises (signing on a new client, getting additional work, or receiving an extension) are always welcome. The funny thing is when it comes to the workplace, surprises are rarely a good thing. When problems come into view, the information is shared – sooner rather than later.
Likes and Dislikes – You understand each other’s preferences. It’s not a strictly professional relationship because you have become friendly – in fact, maybe even social or personal friends) but you are, first and foremost, people working together. The more you can accommodate preferences, and mutually support goals — the stronger the bond.
Reward – You celebrate! Whether it’s been a financially successful year or an emotionally exhausting one, you appreciate the role each other has played over the years and are grateful for the opportunities.
Give some thought about what goes into creating a successful, productive, long-term relationship. You will have many of them in the life of your career. If you can think about what makes the good ones so special and what makes them work, you have a good chance of repeating that success in your future.