How personal are your business collaborations? 

In this question it might seem that the words ‘personal’ and ‘business’ contradict each other. After all, business collaborations are always between businesses, or at least, between organizations, so why bother about the personal aspect?

The more business collaborations I see, within organizations or between organizations, the more I am convinced that the personal aspect is essential for them to succeed. Personal trust and personal relationships are the glue that holds business collaborations together and the lubricant that keeps them working smoothly.

Every successful business collaboration started with personal relationships. Just imagine seeing yourself build a healthy fruitful business relationship with a person you dislike. Difficult to imagine, isn’t it? Still, the personal element of business relationships is an often overlooked element. We do solid partner selection on an organizational level, but hardly invest in building the personal relationships.

Business collaborations are personal and they require a personal investment from you to succeed. It is essential, and never too late, to invest in personal relationships. Start with building and maintaining your network of relationships now, both internally in your organization as externally with people in other organizations. Don’t confuse the quality of your relationship with reciprocity. It will always be about what you do for the relationship; you need to invest and someday you will be able to harvest the fruits of that work.

Here are a few tips that will help:

  • Consistency matters, whether it is every three months, six months or every year, people appreciate it if you reach out. They often forget to do so themselves; it is not a matter of interest, but more of busyness in their current role.
  • Personal relationships are not tied to a current job role: don’t cut off relationships because they no longer seem relevant for your current role. Keep the door open and maintain the relationships on a less constant level. You never know what your next challenge, or that of your relationship, will be and how you can be of help then.
  • Look for small ways to help your relationships, i.e. by sending an article, a book or sharing a tip. Use a tool like Evernote or Onenote to collect tips along the way. Then when you hear that someone likes a certain sport or has a certain challenge, you can check your library and share one of your previous collected tips.
  • Keep a record of your interactions; small notes in an address book can be a good start. Or use a simple yet powerful tool as Cloze to keep track of interactions.

Remember to have fun: building and maintaining relationships should be fun!

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