People often obsess over the unfairness of being well connected. We’ve all heard the silly statement; it’s not what you know – it’s who you know. And we’ve all heard the people who say this sentence with a sense of bitterness in their voice. In reality, who you’re connected with does matter and it’s not fair or unfair – it’s just the world we live in. Relationships matter.

In business, relationships can be considered the number one driver of organizational and career success. The relationship with your customers, boss, employees and colleagues is a very important factor in business. Establishing these connections take time and a conscious effort to ensure that the relationships are well nurtured and maintained.

The best relationships in business are those who you have a real connection with. The following are five ways that you can establish friends with business benefits:

Share Value Regularly

If you can’t meet with your clients or prospects face to face, another great approach to keeping your relationships strong is sharing value. If you don’t do this already, it’s something you can start today by sending them one of the many blog posts or infographics from our site. In a nutshell, it’s about sending your contacts an email that includes a link or report that they would find useful. Constantly adding value to your prospects or clients lives will assist in building a reputation as a valuable resource. You will be seen as someone they can trust and ultimately someone who they will see as a valuable ally.

Understand the various types of content that will resonate with your audience is very important but more than anything, ensuring that the content aligns with their current situation is even more important. For example, if you’re trying to show your client that Snapchat is a great marketing tool, it makes sense to share a Guide on Using Snapchat for Marketing but it doesn’t make sense to share an article on social media 101.

Remember The Little Things

I know this might sound a little bit stalkerish but you should look up your contacts birthdays. It’s really simple to do if you’re connected to them on Facebook but if you’re not connected to them there, you could always ask in a conversation. From there, plug it into your calendar and set a reminder so you don’t forget it. From there, you can send an email on the day of their birthday or even schedule a tweet months in advance. It’s a simple yet effective way to show that you care and remembered their special day.

Be Informal When Appropriate

Embrace the idea of being informal but never embrace the idea of getting sloppy. In conversations with colleagues or at events with peers, it’s okay to let your guard down. It’s okay to talk about things outside of business and it’s okay to laugh at their jokes. Too many people think that business is all Tuxedos and Bowties, when in reality; it’s what you make of it.

Don’t Avoid The Face to Face

Technology has done a lot of great things for business. It’s allowed for brands to tell their story more effectively through social media and provide sales teams with the tools they need to truly unlock the power of their relationships. At the same time, the internet and technology has resulted in creating a world of emails, messages and chatter instead of a world of calls, meetings and discussions. Don’t underestimate the power of meeting face-to-face or picking up a phone to chat.

Social media hasn’t replaced face to face interaction. More than average, I’m actively leveraging opportunities to build connections with people I meet on Twitter, Forums and LinkedIn. I’m grateful for the hundreds of relationships I’ve been able to maintain through technology along with the individuals I’ve met using these tools. But I know that face to face trumps everything. I know that one meeting in person can be more valuable than twenty tweets. That’s the world we live in. That’s the world we must navigate and embrace.

If you want to succeed in business, you need to invest in your relationships. In today’s world, your net worth is directly related to your network. As such, it’s important to be smart about whom you’re spending time with and which connections are authentic, mutually beneficial and established on a sense of trust.

It takes a lot of work to build a relationship but only a second to ruin one. The tactics above will help any professional be smarter and more effective at maintaining positive relationships throughout their professional careers.