3 tips for forming meaningful business relationships

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For some, meeting and connecting with new people comes easily. For those born without outgoing personalities, establishing meaningful relationships can be more of a challenge.

Maintaining solid relationships can have a direct impact on one's success in business, according to Entrepreneur magazine. However, people who consider themselves introverts are not necessarily doomed, for the ability to establish a meaningful relationship with others isn't predicated on personality alone. Rather, it is based on how you approach others, asking the right questions and having something to offer.

The following three steps can help anyone — reserved or outgoing — build strong connections with others, according to Entrepreneur.

1. Ask an unexpected, exciting first question. Typical meet-and-greet questions like "Where are you from?" and "What do you do for a living?" will likely be met with short, automatic responses that don't open up any windows for more engaging conversation.

These questions make you sound just like anybody else. To be more memorable and to set the foundation for a closer connection, questions like, "What are you doing in your life right now that really excites you?" will immediately distinguish the questioner from others, and also present an opportunity for the answerer to talk about some of his or her personal passions. According to Entrepreneur, getting people to open up about something not necessarily related to work is an effective way of creating more meaningful relationships right off the bat.

2. Show you are interested in what they have to say. While it makes us feel good to know others find us interesting, the most effective networkers focus less on talking about themselves and more on showing an interest in learning about others.

In this approach, asking questions about a person's business, passions and hobbies makes them feel important and confident. According to the report, body language plays a key role in demonstrating interest in others. For instance, facing the person and making eye contact shows you are interested in them, while turning away and looking around the room sends the signal that you'd rather be elsewhere.

3. Show you can be valuable to them. Everyone has numerous things they could use help with. The most effective way of getting people in your corner is showing them you are willing to help solve their problems.

When you show you are genuinely ready to offer support, people are more inclined to let their guard down and discuss where they need help, according to the report. Then you can help them yourself, offer to connect the person to someone else qualified to help or let them know you will "scout" for someone who can offer assistance in some way.

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