As a business entrepreneur, I am constantly networking to build my business, meet new people, and build awareness about my professional endeavors. I am always focused on making money, sealing the deal and setting the stage for on going business until one phone encounter changed all of that.

It was a Thursday morning, and I began following up with business contacts and trying to get referral. My approach was very simple and practical and a great template for anyone in any business or industry. During work hours, I contacted a colleague in regards to doing business together for a networking function which I was organizing. Before I picked up the phone, I jotted down a few notes and prepared a quick message if I would be directed to voicemail. I dialed the number and waited for someone on the other line to pick up. I got in touch with the assistant of my colleague and wanted to speak with him about the business venture. The assistant asked for my name and quickly put me on hold. 

The assistant returned back on the line and said, "The owner is busy, but what do you want?". I was going to repeat my quick message but took a pause and thought for a moment. It was obvious that my colleague was busy and slightly stressed from either events from the week or other business dealings. I did not want to be a burden or added stress by asking for a request or need. As an entrepreneur, I could relate to unpredictable situations in business as well as stress and deadlines of that nature. All of a sudden, my attitude changed and so did my quick message. I smiled on the phone and said to the assistant, "Please let my colleague know that I was calling to say Hello. I was thinking about him the other day and wanted to know how business was going and if I could be of any assistance.

 I hope his family is doing well and his cholesterol level is low. And yes, please have him return my call when it is convenient for him." The assistant wrote down the message and later passed it along to my business colleague. I received a message from my colleague the next day and a thank you for my sincerity and concern. We were able to meet up and do business as planned.

From this experience, I learned several things about networking, business and relationships. Listed below are three tips that can help you build strong, lasting relationships with your business colleagues.

#1 Friendship First, then Business

Showing sincerity and concern goes a long way, even in the business world. When you are conducting business with a colleague, take some time to find out how they are doing personally. You do not have to invade their personal lives, but you can acknowledge their families or social lives. This type of communication will definitely expand your relationship and build better bonds.

#2 Pay Attention to Detail

When contacting your clients, customers or clients it is very important to pay attention to detail. Always ask when it is a good time to reach them. Always respect their personal time by calling during business hours. If there is a conflict or certain issues, try to work with them so that it is favorable for both parties.

#3 Follow Up, Consistently

Even after the sale, business transaction or project, it is always good to follow up and stay in contact with your business colleagues, clients or customers. Sending out a quick salutation via email, phone or correspondence can be very meaningful and appreciated.