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Everything you need to build your business is tied to other people. Clients, contracts, connections and cash—they all depend on your ability to grow and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. Yet relationship building skills are often taken for granted. Most corporate training departments focus on technical skills development, usually at the expense of “softer” skills like relationship building. Small business owners and entrepreneurs searching for ways to improve their people skills are apt to find that most online tools and programs focus on short-term fixes (“how to get people into your sales funnel”) over long-term fundamentals.

So what can you start doing right now to build your business one relationship at a time? Here are five simple and effective ways to start:

1. Call or send one video text message daily to someone who has positively impacted your business. Let them know why they’re important to you. As writer Gertrude Stein said, “Silent gratitude is not much use to anybody.”

2. Choose the one group or organization that you belong to and is most meaningful to you, and step up your involvement. It could be a service organization like Rotary, your local chamber of commerce, an industry association, or another. Better yet, become a leader. Taking on a leadership opportunity and serving it well creates opportunities to build deep and meaningful relationships—the kind that result in new customers and referrals.

3. Once a week, write an unsolicited recommendation for a client, referral partner or other business connection on LinkedIn (or on a review website like Google, or Yelp that they find valuable). It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to write something heartfelt that builds tremendous goodwill (and makes you feel good).

4. Twice a month, invite two of your connections who would benefit from knowing each other to lunch or coffee. When you become the connector of your connections, you provide tremendous value to your network and distinguish yourself from others.

5. Monitor social media to find the birthdays and life milestones of your clients and referral partners. Instead of sending a generic “happy birthday” or “congratulations,” mail a handwritten card, record a personal video message, or pick up the phone and call. Great connectors use social media to enhance, not replace, meaningful personal interactions.

Together, these five simple techniques provide a relationship building road map that you can use to cultivate your connections and build your business one relationship at a time. Hone your skills even further with The Connector’s Way System, a powerful online learning course that will help you grow your business through better relationships. More information at www.TheConnectorsWay.com

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About the Author

Applying the principles of his bestselling book The Connector’s Way, Patrick Galvin delivers innovative speaking, coaching and online learning programs that help high-performance companies and teams galvanize repeat and referred business through better relationships.