Top-Shelf Tip No. 115:

"If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business."

Scott Stratten

Common Barriers To Business Relationships

To succeed in business and in life, you must know how to interact with people. Connecting with people in meaningful ways leads to career growth and better results. As relationships become increasingly important, professionals must take the time to nurture their current relationships and network to make new connections.

However, Marty Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, says professionals often face common barriers in the business world when it comes to building relationships. We examine these barriers and how to overcome them in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Many fear human limits in number of relationships. Everyone has limits on how many relationships they can manage well. Zwilling notes that research has revealed that intimate relationships are limited to about five, but most people can easily handle 50 to 150 or more professional ones, if they work at it. You can substantially exceed this number if you take advantage of the tools, processes and technology available today, such as social media, text messaging, email and customer relationship systems (CRM), and discipline yourself to prioritize relationship building.

Most people let existing relationships decay over time. Consider it a challenge to continually refresh important old relationships you've had for some time while proactively adding key new relationships on a regular basis. Zwilling says many business professionals often tell him they're too busy to spend time networking. He recommends setting aside some time each week for networking, including phone calls to key advisors, lunches, emailing follow-up to contacts, and regular attendance at business and industry events, to reconnect to old relationships, as well as build new ones.

Our social and relationship needs change as we age. The general trend shows an increase in relationship network size during adolescence and young adulthood, but a continuous decrease afterward. Many business professionals also feel more confident about their own knowledge and abilities over time, so they tend to rely on fewer relationships. Zwilling encourages professionals to remember that the world of business and technology is changing rapidly, so the ability to change and keep up is becoming more and more the key to your success. Top business executives are always proactively seeking new relationships in areas that are relevant to their business interests.

Good relationships are difficult to decipher. In a digital age, every relationship search turns up thousands of candidates. This gives you plenty of options, but you must invest significant time and effort to choose the right relationship and keep it going. Zwilling encourages professionals to use Facebook, Skype and social media to build and maintain connections anywhere in the world. When you use these tools wisely, you can hone your perspective and get the help you need.

Short-term thinking overwhelms long-term value. Zwilling says that humans are wired to prefer short-term gains to long-term benefits. Some of your best potential relationships may take years to bear fruit, which poses a challenge when you're predisposed to urgent issues rather than long-term strategies and future opportunities. He advises professionals to adopt a portfolio strategy for relationships. Understand that there will be winners and losers over time, as the world changes.

Relationships are an important part of succeeding in business. Keep them high on your priority list and invest the time and effort to build meaningful connections.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Marty Zwilling is the founder and CEO of Startup Professionals. He has published three books for entrepreneurs and is also an accredited angel investor with Arizona Technology Investors.

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