Stop Sabotaging Your Business Relationships

When was the last time you looked up while having a conversation?  Do you recall the last lunch meeting you had when you didn’t make your smartphone part of the place setting? Or another visual: You are at a networking event and your Bluetooth headset is visible around your neck. One or all of these scenarios may resonate with you or someone you know on a physical level.

“Social media has broken the communication barriers of space and time,” says Barbara Pender, certified social media strategist, certified Six Sigma Green Belt, and one of the co-authors of BOLD. “Who knew being ‘social’ would make us less social givers? Social media has given us the ability to project who we want to be, only to show up as someone else. Go ahead and take a look at your profile in the mirror. Are you looking at your representative or your representation?”

Whether with clients, colleagues, leads or influencers, building solid, valuable relationships is crucial to business success. Connecting and “clicking” adds value to all parties involved. People do business with people they know, like, and trust, which in turn means more leads, contacts, financing, contracts, or sales.

As a business owner, you must work hard at relationships, so be careful not to burn bridges. “Today’s foe could be tomorrow’s ally,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, business etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach. Quoting Warren Buffet, she says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

[Related: 3 Top Reasons Business Relationships Go Sour]

There are plenty of seemingly harmless behaviors that might be damaging your business relationships – especially now, with the extensive use of social media and networking. Here are 10 missteps you might be guilty of.

1. Not crying for YELP or other location-based services, such as Foursquare, Swarm, Urbanspoon, Google Maps, and so on. “Attention, brick-and-mortar businesses. Allow customers and prospective customers the opportunity to build your reputation,” says Pender. “Good, bad, or indifferent does not weigh as heavily as having an opinion, that they are willing to share it, and that you are willing to respond to it. The customer is always right. Respond accordingly so the customer will always return or tell someone of their experience.”

2. Not telling everything. Be truthful in every aspect of your business. Your credibility can be severely damaged if you intentionally lie, misstate, or misrepresent yourself or your products and services, says Whitmore. “Never share confidential information and betray someone’s trust. Instead, foster a reputation for honesty with customers.” In the social networking realm, be forthcoming, Whitmore advises. “When I interact with you, my digital follow up is to go on LinkedIn and get more,” says Pender. “But if, upon my arrival to your profile, I see no picture, no recommendations given or received, and it simply looks incomplete, I am not feeling the need to connect and pursue.”

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