You can systematically build strong relationships (e.g., with prospects, clients or customers).
Relationships will develop when you:
Commit to the success and well-being of the other person. You don’t have to like the person. Rather, you have to decide, as a professional, to use your talents and resources to help them achieve their goals. Your commitment drives you to learn as much as you can about them and about how best to work with them.
Consciously move the relationship forward. You move the relationship forward through reflective listening and conscious trust building.
Reflective listening means listening to understand the other person, their environment, and the implications for them of what they say. It also includes observing their (perhaps unconscious) relationship preferences –how they interact with you, and what brings them closer or drives them away. And it includes reflecting back what you have heard; this reflection lets them clarify anything you didn't hear correctly and lets them experience your commitment to hearing them fully.
Concrete trust-building steps are actions you take that are valuable for the other person and which have no immediate benefit for you. These steps demonstrate your commitment to their success. Your actions are based on:
Your unique situation, i.e., who you are, and what and who you know, and
Their unique situation (which you have learned about by listening).
You will typically choose concrete trust-building actions that are easy for you because of who you are, and are quite valuable for the other person. Concrete trust-building actions are always free-of-charge, to demonstrate your commitment.
Some examples might include:
- Helping them with their work, e.g., bringing them a customer or sending them some valuable information
Helping them personally outside of their work, e.g.,supporting a charity that you believe in and that they support or making a referral for them if they need help with other personal matters
Helping them by helping people in their family or whom they know and care about, e.g., helping someone they know find a job.
Acknowledge and respond to the inevitable barriers to forward progress and stay in touch. Virtually every relationship is challenged by the participants’ ambivalence about relationships. If you listen and concretely build trust, you will often make great progress. But you won't always get the response you expect. Rather than moving closer, your relationship partner will move away. This “pushaway reaction” can come in many forms, such as a snide comment, a hostile or distancing behavior (such as showing up late for meetings), or even a complete cut-off of communication. You can learn how to minimize these pushaways, diagnose those that occur, and respond in ways that ultimately leave the relationship even stronger than it was.
Staying in touch maintains a connection you've established. Nurturing that connection shows your prospect you are interested in them and in maintaining a relationship with them. It provides value to them and lets you keep up with what’s on their mind.
You can do all this unilaterally and succeed – you can cause the cooperation of the other person!!