Read about relationship-building in business, what it means and how to be better at it.

Business Magazine - Relationship-building


Read the Text. Next go to each Task and do the activity.

What do we mean by relationship-building?

When we talk about the competency of relationship-building in the world of business, we are referring to building strong relationships with partners and clients – about using interpersonal skills to network in an effective way.

What does a competent relationship-builder do?

Somebody who is competent at relationship-building focuses on understanding the needs of the client and getting the best possible results. This competency promotes an ethic of client service and so an understanding and anticipation of a client’s changing needs is essential. Stress and conflict are other issues that a competent relationship-builder will manage - keeping composed and acting as mediator when conflicts arise.

How can I start to develop the competency of relationship-building?

First identify the business plan goals of your department and decide what your role is going to be in helping to achieve those goals. You will need to study the business plan and learn as much as possible about your clients’ activities, interests and needs. This information might be available in their own annual reports or in client surveys conducted by your company. Talking to your clients about how you can best meet their needs is also a sensible first step to take.

Seven steps to becoming an effective relationship-builder:

  1. Draw up a plan of what you need to do in order to give your clients what they want. Discuss your ideas with your line manager and then do what is necessary to implement the plan.
  2. When the plan has been set in motion, schedule regular meetings with your line manager to review the progress that you are making and make any necessary adjustments.
  3. When you are working as part of a team or group within a department or a company it is important to assess your contribution to the group’s work. Think about how your efforts help or hinder progress.
  4. Make a weekly analysis of your commitments. Set yourself a goal for each week so that you follow them through. Make an effort to do what you say you are going to do – and also, to do it by the time that you say it will be done. If you get into the habit of doing this it will become like second nature.
  5. Build up a file of contacts and classify them in a way that is meaningful for your particular work context. Then you will know exactly who to call with any queries or when you need information.
  6. Don’t just wait for feedback to come to you, request it from a variety of sources – from your line manager but also from colleagues, clients and people who you supervise. Listen to what they have to say and act accordingly.
  7. Build informal relationships with the people who are working around you. Make a point of greeting people who you normally don’t speak to. Ask them about their interests and make it a goal to practise small talk with them. Listen to what they say and remember so that you can ask about a particular interest the next time you meet.




I enjoyed this so much I wrote a follow-up document for my students :
Now we have come to understand what we need to do to promote an ethic of client service. Everyone who is employed in whatever capacity at whatever level cannot avoid this analysis in order to become competent, and hopefully super-competent.
When competency at one's job has been achieved and established, it then becomes relatively easy to stand back and review the situation, namely the scope of what is being handled  by each one of us and try and visualise areas where added-value can be achieved in our personal contributions to the tasks we have been allocated.
Added-value will differ substantially for each of us depending totally on the type of work that we have been assigned. For example, a salesman who has obtained a client who is a Transport Manager and is currently supplying him engine oil can easily see that this can lead to other products such as gearbox oil, brake fluid, windscreen-wash fluid, tyres, and many other items depending on the range available from his Company. It can lead to the provision of services such as vehicle maintenance and even insurance. The list is long. This expanding of products to an existing customer has been named "upsell".
If you are employed by a Government Agency or non-profit organisation, and are strictly providing only a service with no sales, the added-value concept has to be looked at in a different manner. Under these circumstances we must look for what we can do in the following areas :
(a) Improve the service to customers by adding functions that enhance the quality of the end product and removing redundant or unnecessary processes that have no impact.
(b) Reduce the cost of the service by examining the individual steps and introducing more efficient processes.
(c) Reduce the complexity of the service so that the completion can be achieved in a shorter time and may reduce errors that were caused by the process being over-complex.

Below are 3 tasks that we can use to help us visualise what we need to do to implement the above strategy:
Task 1 :
Imagine you are the HR Manager for your Company. The HR Manager needs to recruit another employee to do exactly the same work that you are doing. He will need to issue a Job Description stating clearly what it is that you do, and the skills and competencies that are necessary to effectively discharge those responsibilities. He has asked you to write this for him.
Task 2 :
We want to improve what we do at work. We want to provide Added-Value. We are going to review our job using the criteria stated above and describe areas where such improvements could be made. How would we expect to be rewarded for identifying and implementing such ideas?
Task 3 :
We want to know how we are doing when we deal with customers and clients. In order to do this we are each going to design a feedback form that is tailor-made for our individual jobs so that we can get our clients to check against several key elements of our transaction with him noting our performance on a scale of 1 to 10.

A simple example of a feedback form is shown below :
1. Did we respond to your query in an appropriate timeframe?
2. Were we polite and attentive whenever we called you?
3. Did we understand quickly your needs and concerns?
4. Did we provide you what you needed or answered your query fully?
Have you any comments or suggestions that would improve our dealings with you in the future?
Please indicate alongside each item 1 thro 4 our score for that item on a scale of 1 to 10 when 1 is very poor and 10 is excellent.
Thank you for taking the time to complete this short survey . Your comments will be most helpful!

Great thing to do

I am Team Manager in a call center . Most of the time, we have a lot of things to at time and we neglect relationship-building with our service representatives. But through this lesson, I think I 've learned how to deal with that starting from now.

This is an excellent article. It needs a follow-on article with a name such as "Beyond Competency". This article would discuss the ways in which to optimise/increase competency by "upsell" in the case of a client with an existing product or service, or maximising efficiency/reducing cost of providing a service by a Government Agency or Non-Profit Organisation. I intend to write this myself as my own follow-on for my students in the meantime.

verry good articl i like it

An interesting article. It helps a lot for my job. I hope will have more clients if I do like what the article said

These steps are very useful for my daily activities :)

thanks, it was a good quiz to memorize information