“Knowing, Liking, Trusting – How To Build Business Relationships”

I was arrested listening to “The Bottom Line”, a fascinating programme on BBC’s World Service. It invites successful business leaders to take a view on topics that Evan Davies, a frequent and experienced broadcaster on business, poses. I download the podcasts and was catching up on my listening and tuned in to the topic of  “Big Egos”.

Evan had asked his guests whether it was necessary for a business leader to have a big ego. What arrested me was what Richard Farleigh, a successful investor and entrepreneur said in reply.

Farleigh made his fortune and retired by the age of 34. Ever since he has invested in 80 businesses taking the successful ones to listing on the AIM stock market in the UK. He is well known in the UK as a “Dragon” on “Dragon’s Den”, a popular programme where a group of investors assess an entrepreneur’s pitch and grant them money if they and their company interests them. He knows what he’s talking about!

Farleigh felt that there was a misconception. The assumption is that to be successful in business, one has to be cut-throat. “Most of the successful business I’ve had has been through building relationships. I find that 90% of all business is in forming and building relationships.”.He will invest his money if the entrepreneur inspires his trust, even if the business itself is second rate.

One of the 6 ways Robert Cialdini talks of in gaining influence is in “Liking” or reciprocity. To get engagement and support – getting a supplier to extend their invoice period, achieving a prized introduction or attracting investment – you need to get the other person to like you. Cialdini suggests various ways people do this.

  • Become ‘familiar’ quickly. Find ways you and the other person have something in common – support the same football club, come from the same home town, own the same breed of dog.
  • Offer help. Connect them with a helpful video link on YouTube, lend them a recommended book, give direction or instruction. When you know each other well, introduce valuable contacts or introducers.
  • Ask for help and advice. It shows respect and appreciates their expertise.
  • Remember personal details.

If your objective is to move from being an “Unknown Stranger” to becoming “Trusted Ally”, build your relationship on liking and reciprocity.

How do you do this? By:

  • cultivating curiosity
  • asking good questions
  • listening closely to the answers
  • remembering them.

To establish a business, you need to build relationships that are based on people knowing you, liking you and most important of all, trusting you. Then they become your “Trusted Allies” and even your advocates and “Raving Fans”!


About anrah

Anrah is a business development consultancy specialising in helping senior women in engineering and science, their teams and doctoral students increase 'presence', improve communication and generate impact to win stakeholder buy-in at the highest level.
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