Some people will tell you that being successful in business is all about developing innovative products and mastering marketing, but they’re misguided. This certainly plays a role, but at the crux of business success are relationships. More specifically, if you want to be successful, you have to get better at building healthy relationships with clients.

The 5 Pieces of Advice Experienced Professionals Will Give You

If you discuss the power of relationship building in business with enough successful professionals, you’ll eventually begin to identify some common threads in their advice. Here’s some of what you’ll hear:

  1. It Starts With Trust

When you look at industries where relationship-building matters most, consulting is a field that comes to mind. And if you discuss the topic with consultant Michael Johnson, he’s quick to tell you what’s at the foundation.

“All good relationships are based on trust. I cannot emphasize this enough,” Johnson says when reflecting on his 30-year career in consulting. “Without trust we cannot even start the relationship.”

  1. Patience is a Virtue

It’s easy to feel like you have to rush into building relationships so that you can close a sale and move on to the next prospect or client. However, this is the wrong approach.

“Relationships take time. Resist indulging in disingenuous schmoozing, as it can be a severe put-off,” entrepreneur Gauri Sharma advises. “Instead, take the time to get to know your client, and share a little bit of yourself. Most importantly, remember that your work for your client is paramount in building a relationship. At the end of the day, no amount of personal connection can substitute for great work.”

  1. Drip, Drip, Drip

Think about the longest, healthiest relationships you have in your personal life. In most cases, you regularly communicate with these people. Even if you only see them a couple of times a year, you probably call, email, and chat with them on social media on a daily or weekly basis.

You should take the same approach in business. Think about your relationship like a pot sitting under a faucet. A single drip into the pot isn’t going to do much, but a steady drip over time will eventually fill it up. Drip long enough and you’ll have a relationship that’s ready to boil over into something far greater.

  1. Show Interest in Their Needs

There’s nothing attractive about being selfish. If every time you talk with a client you’re jockeying for position so that you can close a sale that benefits your own bottom line, they aren’t going to want anything to do with you. In a healthy business relationship, you have to show an interest in their needs, too.

  1. Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

This last piece of advice is the simplest, yet most difficult to follow. If you can just do what you say you’re going to do, you’ll never have trouble building healthy relationships. It all goes back to trust and honesty. Meet expectations and people won’t hesitate to work with you.

Never Burn a Bridge

In business, as in life, one of the worst things you can do is burn a bridge. It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you or what decision you’re making, burning a bridge will almost always come back to bite you at some point in the future – especially in smaller industries or niches where you’ll be forced to eventually interact again in the future.

In addition to building healthy relationships with new clients, make sure you’re maintaining strong connections with past and current customers. You never know when you’ll need a helping hand.