Forming long-term business relationships is a very important practice. Without them, you are force yourself to replace the resources you would have from a trusted business relationship. But how do you maintain these relationships? Well first, you have to think the right way; you’re not looking for friends, but associates.
Keep track of all your personal associates. Keep a good record of when and where you first made contact, how often you usually keep in contact with them, and the last time you had a meeting. Usually programs like Microsoft Excel are good for forming a quick chart that you can change and read on the fly. All of this can be useful later.
You have to keep using your business contacts so that they do not forget about you, but don’t call them everyday. Keeping an accurate record of how often you communicate allows you to keep on that system, so that you maintain the relationship by keeping up with them as often as you should. You can also keep track of their opinion of you this way. If they usually call you right back after an attempt to contact them, you are high up on the importance list. If you find they do not usually make an effort to contact you, you’re not that high priority.
Make your contact time count. Remember, you are not friends; the whole purpose of this relationship is to keep advancing each other professionally in some way. So keep your messages short, and to the point. Provide valuable information quickly, and they will return the favor, and turn to you more often.
But make sure that the business relationship is a two way street. It’s called a relationship for a reason, both of you are looking to benefit from what the other offers. So if your contact is there for you, make sure to return the favor. That’s one of the most important ways to keep a business relationship over a long period.