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The 6 Worst Opening Moves for Starting a Business Relationship Don't expect a budding friendship if you're more interested in your phone than the person you're presumably getting to know.

By Jacqueline Whitmore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Far too often, businesspeople bypass the most important process when attempting to develop their business contacts. Rather than build a solid relationship, brick by brick, until they have a trusted structure in which to function, they get to the point right away and then wonder why the relationship didn't get off the ground. Sometimes it takes years to build trust with certain customers and clients. All it takes is a little patience and perseverance.

Here are some ways you will alienate your business contacts from the start and how to prevent it from happening.

1. Talk, don't listen.

When you say "I want to get to know you better," that should mean that you ask questions, listen thoughtfully to the answers, and respond on the same topic. How many times have you sat down for coffee with a new contact who barely asked you one question, then took over and dominated the conversation? If you don't display a genuine interest in others, they won't be interested in you.

Related: 6 Tips for Overcoming a Bad First Impression

2. Ask for a favor at the first meeting.

Every time you ask for a favor before you get to know your contact, you indicate you're only interested in what the other person can do for you. It's more important to build the relationship in the first few meetings. Then when you feel the time is right, you can ask for that favor.

3. Ask for their contact list.

You've taken years to build up the perfect list, so don't give it away to the first person who asks. Rather, think of ways you might collaborate to market each other's services to your respective lists.

Related: 4 Questions That Will Build Rapport and Boost Your Relationships

4. Ask too many personal questions.

When you meet someone for the first time, it's natural to be curious about his or her life. However, if you try to force someone to talk about topics they believe are personal they're likely to end the relationship before it begins. Stick to business and a few non-invasive personal questions. As the relationship develops, so will the personal connection.

5. Take phone calls or text during the meeting.

Whenever your contact agrees to meet with you to discuss how you might help each other, he or she deserves your full attention. Resist the temptation to take phone calls, text or check messages during the meeting. If you're expecting something urgent, alert your partner in advance. Otherwise, put the phone away, out of sight, so you're not prone to look at it every few seconds.

6. Get mad that they won't help you.

It may sound silly, but some businesspeople will pout and become belligerent if they don't get the information they think they deserve. Put your time and effort into earning a person's trust and you'll have much better success with collaboration.

Although these situations may seem like affronts to basic civilities, you'd be surprised how many times these behaviors happen. When people jump for the reward without putting in the work, it indicates that they really don't care about you. They only care about what you can do for them. That turns many people off.

To cultivate solid relationships, take the time to build a strong and mutually-supportive foundation that will set you up for a lifetime of benefits.

Related: 13 Habits of Exceptionally Likable People

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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