Wrapping up Business Relationships Professionally
All of us have experienced the conclusion of a business relationship, whether it is completing a project, transferring from one department to another, leaving one company to join another, or finishing an assignment as contractor or consultant.
How you conclude these business relationships plays a big role in how you are remembered and whether people refer you to potential clients or use your services again in future.
Here are a few tips that can help you wrap up these relationships in a professional way:
Make sure that the client or other party has received what they originally contracted. Often, this is about what you have delivered as well as how you delivered it. Check with the other person if you are unsure whether you have met expectations. “We have originally contracted X. Is there anything that is still outstanding?”
Should someone take work over from you, make sure that you do the necessary handover of tasks. Leave documentation and records up-to-date and let the other party know where they can be found. This is specifically relevant when you leave a job or when you have finished a project that has an operational impact. “I have updated all the relevant the documentation. You can find it on server Z,” or “Here is the document that I have updated. Is there anyone else you would like me to give it to?”
Asking for feedback on how the other party has experienced the engagement will help you to understand what to do differently next time. “I would value any feedback that you have on our engagement. Is there anything you would like to mention?”
This might prompt the other party to also ask for feedback, so prepare for this eventuality.
If relevant, ask for a testimonial or reference at this point. “Would you be comfortable to provide me with a testimonial or reference that I can show future clients/employers?”
People in professional relationships often become friends once the professional part has ended. It could be worthwhile to have a conversation about what this means to the other person.
If you are keen to engage with the company or client in future, have a conversation about how you would like to be contacted.
If money was involved, ensure that any outstanding payments are settled.
I trust that these pointers will help you to manage your business relationships in the way that strengthens your personal brand.