How to Build Real Business Relationships in Person and Virtually

May 8, 2024

The importance of relationships and thinking of your small business outside of yourself, the business owner, cannot be overstated. Relationship building may feel like a buzz word, but it’s really a source of long-lasting, mutual support and growth.  

Good news—when you’re coming up in the business world, some relationships are automatically built into your journey.  

  1. Get on LinkedIn and, starting with friends and school classmates, reach out to make connections. 
  1. Contact mission-based organizations to learn about brand marketing, digital marketing, financial planning, etc. Stay in touch with these resources and the people running them. 
  1.  Start a relationship with your financial institution before you’ve even applied for a loan. This leads you through the many levels of financial partnerships until you reach large banks. 

Not many small business owners know this, but lenders come in levels you navigate through, a lot like school. You start small and work your way up, and all the levels know and feed into each other.  

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) come in different levels, from microlenders and economic development institutions, to CDFIs like Lendistry who are supported by banks to do the lending that they can’t do in smaller amounts up to $5M. When you grow past that amount, you move on to Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), which are a step below large banks and offer loans in amounts from $5M-$25M. 

The first few years of a business’s life are spent in the lower levels, but every step of the way, connect with the people behind every resource on LinkedIn and in person to build an “advisory board”.  

These resources exist to see small business owners do well, and to help them make and learn from mistakes and grow more resilient. After a while, you’ll have a network of experts in a variety of fields who know you and your journey. You’ll even become a valuable resource to them, too.