Q: What are the key ingredients to successful business relationships?

A: Two of the main characteristics of successful business relationships are authenticity and value. Bringing your whole self to work and everything you do is important for entrepreneurs. In order to establish a relationship, you need to be authentic.

I don’t think you can be successful in those roles if you sort of water it down and play it safe. It’s very important to do a really good job of being yourself. Be who you are and put it all out there.

However, be consistent in your messages and your personal branding, particularly with social media. Anyone can know your name and know what you are putting online. Social media has affected how much information people share about themselves, and it can help or hurt relationships. Because of that, we need to make sure that all those touch points say the same messages, whether it’s on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

This sort of curation of a public image doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of authenticity, but rather shows thoughtfulness and professionalism.

Regarding value, remember that in any kind of situation where we’re providing a product, we need to show the value of the product. A good first impression gets you off to a great start, but charisma won’t carry you if the product or service lacks value.

My students wouldn’t love my class just because I have a relationship with them. I need to teach them something valuable. I don’t want my students to walk out of class and only say, “Wow, that was really great! I have a great relationship with my professor.” It’s a business class, and they should feel that they are getting what they pay for.

The exchange isn’t solely their job to study or the professor’s job to teach, but it needs both sides of the relationship to contribute value.

I say to my students, “When you leave this class today, if you [didn’t] get your money’s worth today, I need you to let me know what I need to do differently as a professor, but before you do that, I need you to think to yourself what you can do in order to better realize that value.” We need to think about things in terms of relationships and the value of the offering.

 

Gino Giovannelli is a marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.