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How to form successful business associations using LinkedIn

Ole people always told us as Caribbean children that we should always, “chose your friends wisely”. While that doesn’t mean that we should ever be mean to those with whom we don’t associate, in the same breath, not everyone can be as intimately connected to us as we might tend to believe.

In terms of our business ideas, ethics and aspirations, this nugget of wisdom becomes even more valuable, as we are essentially marketing our name by way of a product or service being offered to the public. Associate with the wrong people, and either failure, acquiring a bad reputation, or both, is very likely.

Who are the ‘wrong’ people? They are the people who, however well-intentioned they may be, do not share our ideas for either creating a new business or enhancing the calibre of an existing one. In this case, associating with them is wrong, as there is no synergy of thought, goals and aspirations. It is almost like putting two racing cars on a collision course. You have your ideas, they have theirs. You have your experiences, and they too have theirs. Yet, there is no common ground, resulting in time wastage and tepid relationships.

Then, there are the people who might share our business ideas and vision. Unfortunately, they do no share our business ethic. They are either reluctant or absolutely unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to advance beyond the first step. They have the talent and they are initially willing, but, they do not have that extra drive or motivation to regularly commit to developing the business through experiment and innovation, or even networking. Remaining in their company for too long will inevitably extract positive energy from us and our goals, by investing time, effort and even money into a one-sided business relationship.

There are also the ‘successful’ people who have also gained an unfortunate reputation for engaging in questionable practices such as fraud, bribery, sexual favours in exchange for greater professional opportunities, tax evasion, discrimination, providing shoddy goods and services, misrepresenting their services, products and experiences, and lying. Avoid such persons at all costs!

Being around them is far worse than hanging around an unclean dog and getting its fleas, for it takes years to build a favourable business reputation, but only a few seconds, one incident, or even one questionable association to permanently sink our professional reputation. Be warned.

Yet, there are the persons with whom we should engage in mutually-beneficial, long-term business relationships. They are honest with money, provide sincere, regular feedback, offer to assist by way of business advice and support, are reliable, take pride in the service and/or products they trade, have credible business networks, treat all potential customers with respect, have consistent return business, communicate in a timely manner with their stakeholders and never take sole credit for their business success. Being one of their business associates is invaluable in the interim and long-term.

A blog to the wise is sufficient.

Keywords: associates, relationship, networks, reputation, LinkedIn Caribbean

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