Strengthen Your Relationships -- 3 Ways to Make Your Business Relationships Stronger

It's been said that "Relationships make the world go round". As business owners, relationships are at the core of our business  and our abillity to develop strong relationships is key to our success.  That includes relationships with our customers and clients, with our suppliers, our referral partners and all those people we network with year in and year out.
Here are 3 tips for how to strengthen those relationships throughout the year.
1. Walk the Talk
At the heart of any relationship is trust.  And one thing that can really help build trust over time is walking our talk or honoring our word. 
Think about it. If you say one thing and then do another, the people in your life start wondering where else you won't deliver.  And that's bad news for you because your customers (or leads) are less likely to buy from you. It also makes them even less inclined to recommend you since they'll be the ones who look bad when you don't deliver. 
Obviously, the same can be said of referral partners.  Walking the talk is crucial if you want to build and maintain a solid referral partner relationship.  They must have faith that you'll deliver the goods -- or they will not recommend you to anyone.
2. Say "Thank You" ...often!
It's just two little words, yet they're so important as you build and strengthen your relationships.
Remember to say "Thank You" any time someone does anything for you. There's nothing that's too small for a thank you.  Even responding to an email is worthy of thanks.  
And if someone refers someone else to you, definitely thank them for it, probably in more ways than one.  Send that email immediately or make that call.  But also follow up with a nice card or even a small gift, depending on the situation, to thank them for their referral.
What if the referral doesn't pan out?  Say "Thank You" anyway.  They've made the effort, and they deserve thanks for thinking of you and for making the connection.  If you reinforce that relationship and show your appreciation by thanking them, they'll be much more likely to make more referrals soon -- and those could pay off big-time.
3. Keep in Touch
Keeping in touch regularly is extremely important if you want to build strong relationships.  You want to nurture the growing connection by reminding the other person that you care about them -- and that you're thinking about them even when you don't need anything from them at the moment.
Like the saying "Go to the well before you're thirsty."  You need to build and nurture your relationships with associates, clients, customers, and partners before you need to call on them for help.  If you've done a good job, they'll be glad to help you.  If you haven't, you may not have a strong enough relationship in place to be able to call in any favors.
So as you see all that candy in the stores, remember that Valentine's Day isn't so much about overdosing on sugary treats but about nurturing relationships.  While you're there, though, why not get something for your Valentine too...  and even yourself!