What is the single most important aspect in business?

The answer: Relationships are the single most important aspect in life and business. Period. The question is: how can we build authentic relationships which will stand the test of time, competition, and differing opinions, approaches, and beliefs?

The concept of building a support system through collecting hundreds of cards at a networking event or even adding ‘x’ number of names to your Facebook page is ridiculous. Let’s face it, when someone takes your card at an event, what is the percentage of time that you follow-up with them, or vice versa? That’s right… only when it was relevant to you or to them. A few thoughts on how to build long lasting, strong relationships in the age of digital volume and social media presence:

Build relationships before you need them. When you meet someone with whom you have an affinity, nurture this. Send articles. Share information which may be helpful to their business. Introduce relevant contacts and business colleagues. Invite them to industry sessions which may be of interest to them. Don’t wait until you need a favor or introduction; build your foundation of trust and authentic interest in their success with no expectation in return. This will insure that your initial relationship is solid with no ulterior motive clouding the intention.

Genuinely care – personally and professionally. This means we have to really get to know people. Not with the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) mentality; with the WIIFT (what’s in it for them) perspective. How can we be of service to them? What do they truly want – and how can we help? People spot phonies from a mile away. People also know the real deal when they see it and experience it. Be the real deal.

Share and give openly. In the world of open transparency, giving and sharing is so easy to do. Introductions, referrals, relevant information – all can be accomplished quickly and easily. Ultimately, we only keep what we give away. That may sound counterintuitive; yet, it is true. This is not to say we are reckless with our referrals. We need to be thoughtful in what we share and give; and equally thankful for those who have given to us. This means saying thank you – in thought, word, and deed.

These three easy and basic tips will help to build a strong support system which is built on a solid foundation of genuine interest in the other person. The key is to take the time to just do it.