I think the three most important qualities every small business person should exhibit when starting a new business relationship are the following:
1. Transparency .... Each party must be clear about why they are contacting one another, meaning what do they hope to get out of this relationship? Also, be forthright in defining the relationship and the terms associated with it.
2. Follow through .... When you say you'll deliver something, do it on-time or before the agreed upon deadline.
3. Respect .... Acknowledge the time and energy that each party is giving to the relationship. So for instance, don't ask for things to be delivered on one date and then not review them or provide feedback for weeks. Or don't show up late to meetings. Respect one another's time.
To elaborate even further .....
1. LISTENING - more business relationships are botched because the parties are not listening to one another. New business relationships involve people and in order to earn respect you must exhibit the behaviors that show you care about your audience. Filter out all unnecessary interruptions, restate what you have heard and seek public positive feedback from the audience.
2. THE FIRST CUSTOMER SYNDROME - Develop the habit of considering the new business relationship as important as the very first business relationship you formed. Ask yourself, "How far was I willing to go to secure my very first successful business relationship?" Go the distance for all business relationships as if it is your first and only opportunity to put food on the table.
3. LIVE THE GOLDEN RULE - constantly remind yourself as to how you would want to be treated in a great business relationship. Paint the ideal picture in your mind's eye and then work towards delivering that experience to your customers, suppliers, associates, partners and employees. Understanding that the customer is at the center of every action will help guide relationships in a prosperous direction.
So what's next for you? You should honestly evaluate your actions according to these qualities. if you aren't exhibiting them ... why not? It's time you should. If you are .... good on ya!!