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  1. Five step to building better relationships

    BY DAVID TOVEY

    At the heart of great networking is the ability to build great business relationships. It is the relationships we develop that will determine how successful we will be in our business or career.

    No one is born with a natural talent for building relationships, but there are skills and behaviours that can be learned just like any others, once you decide you need to develop them.

    Here’s five areas you can focus on that will help you to build great relationships.

    Ask insightful questions

    When other people sense that we are making a genuine attempt to understand them, they tend to open up and share more insightful information. This deepens the relationship and places us in the group of people they want to seek out and talk to.
    The best way to explore more of another person’s world is to ask questions about the answers they give. Start the conventions with open questions to get people talking and then ask open specific questions to dig deeper and make sure you demonstrate that you have understood.

    Be a great listener

    The simple rule is that once you have asked a questions – shut up!

    Most people are too busy thinking of what they want to say next to be really good at listening. We can all be guilty of wanting to get our own point across, to talk about our business and our products.

    Something magical happens in relationships when people believe that they are really being listened to, people bond with and want to spend more time with those people who listen. When you find yourself listening just for the pause so that you can get you point across, stop and refocus on what the speaker is saying. You might find out that they want something you can provide.

    Focus on tone and body language and you will lead to deeper and more meaningful conversations.

    Be open but only share when it’s appropriate

    We have all met people who tell us their life story in the first few minutes of meeting us, totally oblivious to the fact that we likely have little or no interest in hearing it. To build strong relationships we need to be sensitive and be able to pace ourselves, only sharing when it’s appropriate and at a level that is consistent with the depth of the relationship.

    Good relationship builders show they can empathise, mirroring the emotions of the person speaking. Sharing excitement, joy, sorrow, frustration, and disappointment helps human beings to connect. Be sensitive and empathise by sharing a situation from your own experience to show that you can relate to the other’s experience, but never so that it overshadows or competes with their experience.

    Be authentic

    Authenticity is the feeling of being your real self and being able to communicate your real self to others equally. Not putting on a different type of performance for different people. You can’t learn how to be authentic because ff you’re trying to be authentic, you’re not being authentic!

    People warm to those they feel are being authentic and shy away from those who they perceive as the opposite or inauthentic. Whist authenticity can’t be taught you can learn how not to be inauthentic.

    Be emotionally intelligent

    Great relationships builder have a high EQ, emotional intelligence quotient. They feel good about who they are and always look for the positive in their world. They genuinely want the best for others and want to see them succeed.

    The energy of people who are comfortable in their own skin, upbeat, and positive creates an atmosphere where we feel good, want to be around, and want to spend time with them. They avoid gossip about others and keep what we tell them in confidence. Being self-confident, they don’t feel the need to draw attention to themselves. They always have time for the significant others in their lives. They are life-long learners who are always open to and looking for opportunities for self-improvement.

    The above may not be an exhaustive list of the skills and behaviours that make for great relationships developers, but get better at each one of them and you will be amazed at the positive effect it has on your networking efforts.

    David Tovey is Development Director of Sterling Growth Hub, an international speaker, consultant, coach and author.

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