Before discussing the 10 Tips to building relationships that work, it is important to understand that dealing with friends, family and strangers is very similar to dealing with your customers. As a smoke shop, head shop, or vapor shop owner, It is important to understand that your customers are important relationships in your life too. In some instances, they may be some of the most important relationships you can have in your life.

Your customers are your livelihood. They are you life blood. They are the ones who buy your products. They utilize your service. They trust you. And they value the relationship they have with you. Your customers will determine whether you will have successful business, or just a mediocre business.

Which do you want? A successful smoke or vapor shop? If your goal is to operate the most successful business possible, then it is important to understand what it takes to solidify and strengthen the relationships with you customers.

Go ahead and write down the name of every HIGHLY successful person you know, or have ever known, heard about, or read about. Your list may include family members, friends, bosses, coworkers, and even customers known by very few others, or your list may include international leaders or significant religious figures known around the world and throughout history. Make your list as long as possible.

Now go through your list and put a check mark next to the name of every one of those HIGHLY successful people who achieved their success all by themselves. In other words, they had no help, no support, no input, no guidance, and no encouragement from anyone else. If you’re like the thousands of others who have taken this challenge, chances are you’ll have no check marks whatsoever.

The truth is … almost everything you have accomplished, or will ever accomplish, or may never accomplish can be traced to the quality of your relationships. That being the case, I would strongly advise you to never ever leave your relationships to chance. Build them. Nurture them. And strengthen them. Because there are very few things that will pay off as well as your relationships on and off the job.

So what can you do to build better, stronger, healthier relationships? Here are a few simple communication techniques you can use. And indeed, you should be using several of these techniques on a regular basis. Start using the ones that make the most sense to you.

1. Use the other person’s name.
Whether you are passing someone in the hall, entering a meeting room, or greeting a friend at dinner, speak the other person’s name. Instead of merely saying “Good morning,” say “Good morning, Bill.” It makes the other person feel important, and we all want that. Want to impress your customer. Learn there name, and call them by their name the next time they enter there business. If you can practice this simple task, you will immediately build a trust and loyalty with your customer that will be tough to beat.

2. Never eat alone.
Successful people grab lunch with friends and colleagues. As career coach Anita Attridge tells “Forbes” magazine, “Lunch is an excellent time to continue to build relationships and network with others.” Once again it tells the other person that he or she is important because you are making time for them. Try this, next time you have one of your good customers in your store and it is lunch time, ask them to go with you to grab a bite. Imagine the impact that will have on that individual, and customer. It not only shows your value their business, but it shows you value their relationship on a personal level as well.

3. Respect the other person’s time.
Everybody is busy these days, and many people are crazy busy. So if you ask for ten minutes of someone’s time for a brief conversation, stick to your agreement. Don’t go past your ten minutes unless the other person gives you permission to go on. That way the other person will look forward to talking to you rather than dreading it. And your customers are the same way. If you strike up a conversation with a customer, show you value their time by asking how long they have to speak. Most people don’t want to be rude if they are in a hurry, but you don’t want to create anxiety in your customers by taking up their valuable time.

4. Pay attention to nonverbal cues.
Look for signs that may indicate the person is losing interest or becoming impatient, and adjust your conversation to be more sensitive to his other needs, expectations or time constraints. This ties in with tip #3. If you sense your customer doesn’t have time to talk, then be respectful of them time and tell them you will talk to them the next time they come in.

5. Have something of interest to say.
Knowing all about the Kardashians, who is in the finals of “Dancing With The Stars,” and what NFL player is in trouble now will not help you get ahead in your professional networks. Consume your actual real-world news in whatever form you choose, and be familiar and conversant in local, national and international politics and events. Do you want to better relate to your customer. Try to find things they are interested in, and then ask them things on that topic next time they come in your store. Showing you are interested in what they value as important is a great way to strengthen the relationship with that customer.

6. Adapt your communication style to fit with the other person’s style of communicating.
In the book “You Can’t Do It Alone: Building Relationships for Career Success,” Glass and Brody say, “Mirror the personality and behavioral style of the person with whom you are meeting.” In other words, does he or she want the big picture or the details? Does he or she speak quickly or slowly? Does the person want to spend more time on small talk or get right down to business? Honor the other person’s preferences if at all possible.

7. Help the other person succeed.
As human relations expert Anthony Robbins points out, “Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” Simply put, don’t be transparent in trying to hard to build relationship that you come across to your customer as doing it for self-serving reasons. If your customers believes that you are only taking an interest in them as a way to benefit you and your business, you will alienate that customer and they will no longer trust you. A customer who does not trust you will be a customer that will not buy from you. You have to have a genuine interest in strengthening the relationship. Do it from the heart, not from your wallet.

8. Send more notes.
If you’ve arranged a special meeting with someone, follow up that meeting with a thank-you note. Send a handwritten note thanking the person for taking the time to meet with you. Send greeting cards … birthday, holiday, congratulations, and sympathy cards. Very few people practice this so-called “common courtesy” anymore, so your note automatically puts you in the top tier of thoughtful, appreciative, professional people. In other words, send your best customers, those you have built good relationships with, a nice handwritten note telling them not only that you value their business, but you value their relationship more. This small, inexpensive gesture will reap huge rewards.

9. Ask more questions.
If it’s been a while since you’ve spoken to the other person, ask, “What’s new?” and be genuinely interested in his or her answer. Notice items displayed in their offices; ask about their weekend. Learn about his or her hobbies and interests and ask about them. Most people appreciate being the center of your attention.

10. Look for ways to be of help, and then do it.
Learn about the problems and issues the other person has to deal with. Find solutions. When you learn the other person needs a service, offer to connect the person to your resources (i.e. travel agents, nanny service, etc.). It may be as simple as saying, “I heard you say that you are looking for a new personal accountant. I’m really happy with the person I’m using. Would you like me to connect the two of you?” Or offer to drive the other person to a meeting you are both attending. Your customer is used to giving you their business, reciprocate by giving them some business too. This is not to say you buy something from them, but you can give them advice and guidance, which may have value to them. Think how much you appreciate when someone goes out of their way to help you. Your customer will feel the same way.

When it comes to building relationships that work, the little things do matter. By doing a lot of little things, you will be blessed with great benefits. Your personal life will be enhanced and your business will grow. After all, you do want to have a successful business, right? SSA

Dr. Allen Zimmerman Headshot PhotoAlan Zimmerman, PhD has spoken to more than one million people across the United States and around the world, giving them the tools they need to achieve their goals on and off the job. As a prominent, sought-after author and speaker, Dr. Zimmerman works with a variety of organizations and professional associations. His clients universally characterize him as genuine, down-to-earth, practical, and powerful. Dr. Zimmerman has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions in the fields of attitude, communication, leadership, and speaking. Most recently, the National Speakers Association awarded him its highest honor, the Council of Peers Award of Excellence.