Building Business-to-Business Relationships

by Craig Anthony

3 min read

Forming mutually beneficial business relationships is a time-honored growth strategy for companies of all sizes. Businesses tend to have unique skill sets that they do exceptionally well, and the right partnership can elevate both organizations by allowing both to take advantage of the larger resource pool. A strong B2B relationship can also result in both parties sharing customers or clients when the products or services offered are complementary and noncompetitive. Of course, simply forming a business relationship doesn’t guarantee positive results, so strategic planning is critical. These tips will help you to build enduring B2B relationships with the right organizations.

Find the Right Business

Your goal should be to find a company that shares the same target audience without directly competing. For example, if you own a boutique store that sells vintage clothing, you could reach out to a tailor. There’s no overlap because one company sells a product and the other offers a service, and many of the same people that go to one would also be likely to frequent the other. In this case, the strategic partnership makes sense because both business can refer customers and clients to each other without risking profit loss. Another prudent choice for the boutique would be a local shoe store. While both companies sell physical goods in the same general category, they’re different enough that they can recommend each other without worrying about losing business. But this isn’t a one-size-fits all rule, there’s also power in having multiple, similar businesses in one place, like having a block party event with neighboring businesses.

Be Genuine

Nobody wants to form a business relationship with the shrewd, conniving businessperson who is only looking out for number one. Like any relationship, a business alliance needs to be a two-way street with both parties working together to accomplish shared common goals. Authenticity goes a long way in the business world, and it’s crucial if you want to retain and expand the relationship long-term. Be actively understanding, giving, and aware. Ask questions. Be transparent. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, but also know when to keep your cards to yourself. Show that you genuinely want to help the other business to succeed, and ideally that sentiment will be reciprocated.

Get Everyone Involved

This idea mimics the adage, “More roots make for a stronger tree.” Although a business relationship may begin between two CEOs, you can strengthen the bond between both businesses by involving the personnel of both companies. Of course, you don’t want to try to force friendships, but having an event with both companies is a great way to connect the two businesses privately and in the public eye. Special events like picnics or dinner parties offer opportunities to network, bounce ideas, and boost morale. Public events hosted by companies with blossoming business relationships can also be excellent for PR and for generating local interest, plus they’re just a whole lot of fun.

Go Above and Beyond

The best way to keep your B2B relationships healthy is to always go the extra mile. It’s better to be owed than to owe, and you never know when you may need to call in a favor. Whenever possible, offer something before making a request. It’s very important that you keep the scales even, and it can be difficult to realize when your company is taking more than it’s giving. Play it safe by always doing more than is expected and never taking more than you need. Every business relationship is unique, so try not to let your preconceived expectations stand in the way of new possibilities. Never rush into a mutually beneficial partnership. Spend some time weighing the pros and cons, and make an informed decision when you’re ready. Once you build a strong, symbiotic relationship, do everything within your power to maintain and grow it. The sky is the limit when you work together.

References & Resources

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