How To Build Strong Business Relationships — Remotely

Many managers have been forced to migrate from face-to-face meetings to virtual ones due to the Covid-19 virus. Making new business relationships over the internet, on the other hand, has its own set of obstacles. To establish trust in a relationship, it is necessary to see beyond the shortcomings of online encounters.

We questioned 82 managers from four continents about choosing which new business partners to trust just before the outbreak. Many varied replies came from various locations and civilizations. Managers in Latin America and the Middle East/South Asia, for example, sought to meet possible new business partners in-person to create trust. Management in Latin America utilized that time to learn about the values shared by possible business partners. Still, management in the Middle East and South Asia used the same time to assess how much respect individuals had for specific values.

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Then, in November and December 2020, we followed up with 21 executives to examine how the pandemic impacted their capacity to develop new business relationships. We discovered that their civilizations remained distinct. For example, the outbreak had little effect on trust. It was still low in Latin America and the Middle East/South Asia compared to East Asia and the West. From their shared virtual meeting experiences, managers have learned that it is almost hard to create the type of trustworthy relationships required to keep their firms going throughout the pandemic. Virtual meetings are only a means to an end, but developing trust with new business partners takes time.

This section will look at some of the unusual issues that managers have encountered while attempting to form business relationships online. Following that, we provide four pieces of advice from professionals in the area on how to cope with these issues.

The Issue:

We discovered that managers utilized openness, competence, respect, and rapport to pick who to trust in our pre-pandemic interviews (i.e., similar values). We spoke with individuals during the flu outbreak and found it challenging to grade potential dates based on these characteristics in a time-limited, scripted online activity. “We can’t tell how informed they are until we meet with them.” “I believe it’s quite difficult to convince people to sign a billion-dollar contract, say, in Cambodia, without seeing the land or the project,” a Hong Kong manager remarked.

Participants also said that since they were communicating online, they couldn’t see or hear how potential business partners conversed with one another. When meeting online with a potential partner, a Thai manager stated it was difficult to grasp how choices were made. When the epidemic came to an end, her firm agreed to postpone any final decisions until they could meet in person. We didn’t realize it until we conducted the “look and see” that all of their decisions were made by the same individual. We couldn’t work together, as it turned out.”

How To Build Strong Business Relationships

Advice From A Panel Of Experts On How To Build Trust:

After two years of the epidemic, we’ve all learned a lot about what we can and cannot do online. When it comes to establishing trust with new business partners, the managers we spoke with were well-versed and experienced. Here are four things they’ve discovered.

We Must Not Lose Sight of Our Difficulties:

Although spending time getting to know individuals in virtual places is not ideal, it is vital if you want to create new acquaintances and develop trust.” Here are a few reasons why it’s critical to schedule more personal conversations:

  • Because there are fewer opportunities to meet in a virtual situation, we’re almost out of time. You are not required to discuss your family or your upbringing. I believe it is far more difficult to discuss personal matters online than in person when the barriers fall after a few minutes or an hour of conversing. 
  • Some things are not learned since everything in the class is arranged ahead of time. Online meetings don’t allow for adequate face-to-face interaction to keep you informed of what’s going on. 
  • Even after seeing and listening to the video, everyone wants to speak to each other. When you meet in person, you can have all of the small chats that will follow. This kind of talk may now occur over WhatsApp, iMessage, or even the phone. In truth, all you have to do is catch up in the taxi fast. When you see your partner in person, you gain their trust.

Take Use Of The Individuals You Know:

Potential partners may be found via reliable persons in your present networks. They might serve as a go-between for you. If you want to make good friends, tell them what you have in common with them and what you want to learn about them. Here’s what a handful of attendees had to say about it:

  • This isn’t something that can be summarized systematically. You only need to identify the individuals in your network who can and are willing to assist you. I recognize at least three or four of them. To arrange a meeting, I’ll approach them and say, “I need to meet with a specific individual.” Could you please guide me through the process?” – A manager born in the United States.
  • A German customer who had previously worked with us got us in contact with the company’s Austrian division. We had a terrific time playing against the Austrians as well. The company then underwent a reorganization, and I was concerned that we might lose all of their business. Instead, we heard from new upper-level management, with whom we had never before worked, that they wished to continue working with us the following year.
  • Because it is difficult to get to know someone you don’t know, the importance of personal recommendations has increased significantly. People are increasingly requesting recommendations. We can’t speak to people without knowing their names because we can’t right now. You have email and everything else, but it isn’t enough.
  • Because of the outbreak, a Japanese manager couldn’t travel to Taiwan to explore new business opportunities during a site visit. Instead, he turned to a Japanese business he trusted with Taiwanese staff who could travel to the site and speak with the people. “Now, we normally ask the trustworthy third-party business,” he said.

Consider Trying Out A New Relationship.

When someone wants to conduct business with you, a decent place to start is with a price that is less than the expense of meeting in person. You should also be aware that a prospective partner’s propensity for modest transactions initially may lead to larger ones later on if you do business with them.

We struck an agreement last week. We were enthused about the potential and markets when we initially met this partner. Our findings were also encouraging. We were prepared to spend more money on this endeavor than normal. We opted to invest in phases since we couldn’t meet the team or visit their organization in person. We want to spend an initial sum and retain the right to pay more if we meet in person.

As A Fourth Stage, Share Your Knowledge With Coworkers You Can Rely On.

You could assist them in improving their procedures and saving money, or you might be able to help them better serve their consumers and bring in new business for both of you.

How To Build Strong Business Relationships

According To A Nicaraguan Manager:

We are developing some internet solutions to assist them in selling their items. It benefits both our goods and everything else they offer. We’ve expanded our company with them since they know we’re always willing to assist. Helping each other succeed is more than simply a business in this new world.

When we met a Finnish manager, he informed us that his company’s technology could convey digital data about how well it was doing. Customers who had not selected this option in their contracts before the epidemic were curious about how to utilize it and make the most out of it. Consequently, he gained new customers and learned new methods to promote his company’s goods and services.

Developing Hope for the Future:

Participants acknowledged that learning to work online during the pandemic may have a long-term impact, but it wasn’t entirely given up.”

As One Italian Manager Put It:

We may do more online after Covid-19, but I doubt it will be solely online. Even if everyone wants to go back to our old ways, we can still have some meetings online that everyone agrees on.
I believe that in-person gatherings will return in some form, but they will never be as prevalent as they once were. The outbreak will most likely endure much too long. And you’ll develop new habits, new methods of doing things, and new ways of communicating with others that you’ll get used to and feel at ease with. And you’ll discover that it’s usually sufficient. In some instances, I don’t have to be there in person as much as I used to. Even while being there in person is lovely, I can make better use of my time and avoid going there as often as possible.

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