By Kawania H. Wooten, CMP

As we grow our start-up businesses, we rapidly learn that our relationships with our business partners are just as important as our relationships with our clients and customers. Your B2B relationships will typically involve more than just a business referral, so here are five (5) tips for building stronger vendor partner relationships —

1. Give credit where credit is due. “A candle doesn’t lose its flame for lighting another candle.” If a team of vendors worked with you on a project, give them credit for their work. It shows both appreciation and respect for what they bring to the table.

2. Understand That You Are Each Other’s Client. Your vendor partners will send more referrals your way than any client ever will. So, give that relationship the utmost respect. In fact, if you treat your vendor partners like your clients, you will never take them for granted.

3. Be Transparent. Be open in your communication with your vendor partners. If you are not in the position to deliver excellence (at the moment), be honest with your vendor partners. Your honesty and transparency will take you further than your skills ever will.

4. Give Constructive Feedback and Be Able to Receive It. If you see a vendor partner not “living their best vendor life,” share some constructive (non-judgmental) advice with him or her. Your advice might be transformative. And, be open to receiving feedback from your vendor partners. You never know where your blessings may come from.

5. Respect What Vendor Partners Bring to the Table. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to teach a “Catering and Banquet Operations” class at a local community college. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the immense amount of work caterers do. I’ve been planning events for 25 years, and I am positive that teaching that class made me a better event planner.