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Whether you run a global business or you simply live far away from your vendors and clients, maintaining quality relationships with your business’s stakeholders is key to your business’s success in the short and long term. Ensuring the happiness of your vendors, clients and team often means avoiding miscommunications, preventing problems and streamlining processes that will help maintain the smooth running of your company.

But when in-person interactions are limited—or completely off the table—how should business leaders go about improving these relationships? Below, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their answers as well as insights behind their own relationship-building strategies.

1. Make Time To Connect Over Personal Matters

Ensure you make time to chat about families or other personal matters. Going the extra mile this way will help your customers see that your business is about more than just money; it’s about making genuine connections. If language is a barrier, try using online communication resources that are popular in your customers’ specific country. For example, I use WeChat to talk to Chinese vendors and WhatsApp to talk to Mexican vendors. Doing this will help tailor your communication to your audience and build a loyal international customer base that will take your business to new levels. – Shu Saito, All Filters

2. Send Engaging Newsletters

We’re lucky to be doing business in an age of digital communications, which does help to bridge the physical distance between businesses and clients. But I think the most effective way to improve business-client relationships is to employ a communications medium that was also used in the print and analog days of old: the newsletter. Getting a skilled PR or media professional to write this for you will pay big dividends, as good, engaging content will entice readers, and an effective message can be creatively implemented. A section where client profiles are featured is also a great way to further the relationship, as everybody likes to read about themselves. – Kyle Michaud, Carolina Dozer

3. Leverage Thoughtful Gifts And Team Retreats

The one thing that worked best for us was to make everyone feel as present as possible. In practice, we translate this into thoughtful gifts and team retreats. We have weekly team calls unrelated to work. During these calls, we have guided yet informal discussions from which we learn a great deal about our team members. We are lucky to have a nimble team, and knowing a level of detail about their lives allows us to build custom gifts that feel meaningful. Surprising and delighting our team with these regular small gestures has done wonders for our feeling of interconnectedness. We also have regular in-person retreats that build on our knowledge of our team’s lives, insights and skills. This allows us to plan discussions and activities that do not feel too generic. – Daria Gonzalez, Wunderdogs

4. Maintain Consistency

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There are many things you can do to improve your business relationships, even when you are limited by distance. Technology has been one of the best ways to keep in touch. Video conferencing, email, instant messaging and other mobile gadgets and social media platforms are also alternative ways to connect with others. But, you need to be consistent and regular with your communication schedule, whether it’s weekly or monthly. This will show your business partners and teams that you value their relationships and are committed to keeping in touch without being too intrusive. A regular follow-up or update, whether through email or messaging apps, can lessen miscommunications and also increase clarity in meetings, especially when done through video. – Bryce Welker, Crush The GRE

5. Communicate Regularly Using Their Preferred Method

Maintaining regular communication with long-distance clients and vendors will go a long way to improve your business relationships. It’s also important to consider their preferred communication method and to let that drive your communication strategy, which might look different for each client. If they’re strictly email only, put thought into the messages you’re sending. If you know they prefer phone or video calls, don’t schedule back-to-back meetings so that you have to drop out before they’ve finished, leaving them feeling rushed and unvalued. Above all else, make your communication feel personal. – Diana Goodwin, MarketBox

6. Take Advantage Of Video Conferencing And Recording Tools

One way to improve your business relationships when you’re constrained by distance is to use video conferencing tools and recorded content. This helps to build a rapport and strengthen the relationship between the parties, as well as provide an opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level. I suggest using a tool like Loom that lets you make quick videos with a screen-share feature and a “floating head bubble.” You can use it to leave feedback, share instructions and more. This way, you can retain a face-to-face connection without having to do it live. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. Humanize Every Communication

Try to humanize communications as much as possible. Incorporate a personal perspective while remaining professional, like being true to your commitments and always providing the best in products or services. Try to go the extra mile to solve any grievances or challenges that may crop up at times. Be brisk with providing solutions, and always try to personalize your communications. Professional competency equates to professional trust, especially in long-distance business relationships. Always try to contribute to the personal lives of the people you are in touch with. Remember that every business is purely human. Even though texting and video conferencing have become simpler and more accessible, don’t do anything in excess. – Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas

8. Focus On Quality Service

The key is communication; however, the communication does not need to be in person. Meet all deadlines, ask the right questions and give the right answers. Vendors and clients will then love you, and the distance will not matter. I would much rather work with someone three time zones away who can meet all deadlines and be efficient, than with someone who is one block away and can’t do any of that. Sure, being local means we can grab coffee and discuss issues, but that can be done easily via Zoom or email too. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

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