Terri Banaszewski (VP Business Development) at Sunrise Banks, Aleesha Webb (SVP Private Commercial Officer), and Chris Albrecht (VP Commercial/SBA Lending)

How to Build and Maintain Strong Business Relationships

By Tucker Combs

Sponsored by Sunrise Banks

Chris Albrecht, Vice President Commercial/SBA Lending, Terri Banaszewski, Vice President Business Development, and Aleesha Webb, Senior Vice President Private Commercial Officer spend most of their time building and maintaining important relationships at Sunrise Banks.

These women all knew from early on how important relationships are — not only to people, but to the function of a business — and their professional experience only confirmed this. “The successful performers were those bankers that earned repeat business,” said Terri Banaszewki. “By building solid relationships with my customers, they would return for other product needs and see me as their road map when trying to navigate the bank.”

We sat down with these women recently and asked their advice on how to grow and maintain a network of business relationships that lasts.

Take Advantage of Multiple Networking Channels

Banking, like all business, is built on an ever-expanding network of personal connections; as the mediums for connecting change, the ways that businesses and people can maintain and build those relationships also change and increase.

To keep up with her network, Aleesha Webb utilizes more than one networking channel. “I make certain that personal conversations are taking place constantly,” explained Aleesha. “I don’t rely on sending emails and hoping they are read and interpreted in the manner they were intended to. I show up to as many networking events as possible and introduce myself to as many individuals as time permits.”

Even though networking events are a great way to make new personal connections, no one can be everywhere at once; Chris Albrecht gets around this with social media. “Social media makes it easier to follow what your customers are interested in and when they have news—it’s always nice to drop a note and let them know you were thinking of them.”

Remember That Good Relationships are Mutually Beneficial

All three women agree that relationships have to be a two-way street. You have to not only be available to your contacts, but you need to be able to help them solve their problems — a little help goes a long way and is remembered for a long time. But learning from the people you form connections with is also paramount; no one can know everything and if you take the time to learn from your network, you not only help yourself but everyone else you’re connected with.

Join Professional Organizations

Fostering working relationships transcends the company you’re currently working at, and according to Chris, Terri, and Aleesha, committing to professional organizations can help open your network up and expand the breadth of industries it touches. Chris is involved with the Midway and St. Paul Area Chambers of Commerce, Women in Networking (WIN), and Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Women (MN CREW); Terri belongs to the Midway and St. Paul Area Chambers of Commerce, as well as WomenVenture.

Aleesha has worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters in the past. “Values and morals have always propelled me to work with organizations that align with my personal and professional passions,” said Aleesha. “Finding organizations that have passionate and intelligent people at the helm inspiring others and thinking outside of the box is a must.”

Final Tips

Each of the women had some final important words of advice they wanted to pass on to young professionals about networking.

“Find an area you like and allow yourself the time for the relationships to grow,” said Chris. “Gardening is a good analogy. You figure out what you want to grow, then select the space and tools and start planting and tending you seeds — you’ll be amazed at what you can grow!”

Terri advised, “Be professional but be approachable. Understand what you know and when you need to rely on others for more specifics. Get involved and get connected.”

Lastly, Aleesha stressed the importance of authenticity, and providing value. “Be comfortable in your own skin and show up every day. Today everyone has a place at the table. Find those who appreciate your uniqueness and work hard on their behalf. Good people always give back. Be someone who looks to bring value to a person or organization before anything is taken.”

Sunrise Banks, N.A., based in St. Paul, Minnesota, seeks to radically change the way urban communities and underserved people thrive by empowering them to achieve their aspirations. Sunrise is certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a designation earned by approximately 100 banks nationwide. Sunrise Banks is also a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and is a certified B Corp for its demonstrated commitment to transparent corporate governance and positive community impact. Visit Sunrise Banks at SunriseBanks.com, on Twitter @SunriseBanks, or on Facebook. Sunrise Banks is Member FDIC.