If you are being ambushed by someone you have just met, and it has you thinking twice about doing business with them, then you are not alone.

It's like relationships in life. My friend was sharing a story today on how she met this guy for 10 minutes at a business function and within minutes he has invited to stay at his home at the snow and then followed up with text messages - none of which have been replied to. Really? Do people really think that someone would go and stay at their place with them after 10 minutes? My friend and I laughed and we immediately related it back to business.

How many times do you commence a relationship with a client or a supplier, only to have them step over the line or become too familiar too fast? What is appropriate and what isn't. Is inviting your clients to your home for dinner after the first meeting suitable?

Relationships in life and in business take time.

There are four stages to a business relationship to take into account: Awareness, knowledge, liking and trusting.

The first, awareness is easy to get to. If you look at the story where my friend had met someone and talked to them for only 10 minutes, you would call that awareness. They didn't get past that stage. He jumped straight to trusting or was it trying to lure?

The second stage is much harder to get to. It is about having an understanding of what your business does and the role you play in that business. The person has to have no doubts on who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.

The third stage is liking. This man did not get to this stage and because he jumped in too fast, he will never achieve it. Just like in business. If you assume your client likes you and you haven't yet gone through the first two stages, then your relationship is doomed.

Through the "liking" stage, they like your business and they know all about it. Ask them anything, and they can share with you and anyone else how much they like your business.

The last stage is trust which is undoubtably the most important stage. It's the hardest to get to and once you get there, because of the trust factor, if there is a problem with the product or service you are offering, they will have enough faith in you and your brand to have a conversation and trust that there will be a mutually beneficial outcome. They will have confidence in your brand and may share things with you on how you can improve the relationship with them.

Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

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