Relationship Building requires time, energy, and consistent interaction.
Relationship building is where you can move your career forward. It is more than “networking” or communicating with your “connections”. Both these words, “networking” and ”connections” feel hollow to me. A “network” has an old school feel to it like something business people do to sell something. A “connection” almost feels like a number to me.
A “relationship” is something that feels stronger and has more give and take. When you are building your relationships you get to tell your story about the real you. Your strengths, traits, values, interests, and passions are your story, so start telling it to everyone, everywhere you go. The real value in building and maintaining professional relationships is keeping yourself known so when opportunities DO come up, your professional relationships will think of you.
Because so many professional relationships either start online or are maintained online, it is critical that you utilize the largest career database in the world, LinkedIn. Start with a strong profile (Start at the Beginning) and then engage online with “likes” “shares” and “comments” or creation of your own content. Each time you do one of these, it sends a message to your network about what is important to you.
You can also be involved in any of the other social media platforms out there, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc and when you are involved, always keep the filter of “relationship building” on in your background.
People will hire you when they know, like, and trust you. This happens when you share your story with others and offer help throughout the year and throughout your entire career. Building the relationship and maintaining that relationship is the key to your career development.
How do you do relationship building?
Tip 1). Obviously online you can reach out to people who are writing on topics of interest to you and let them know you are reading their posts by “liking” “sharing” and “commenting”. I once read a National Career Development Association article in Career Convergence and was so interested in the topic that I reached out to the author and asked if we could Skype. She was more than happy to and I was thrilled to further explore the topic. That was about 4 or 5 years ago and occasionally I still reach out to Adry.
Tip 2). Identify someone in your network you have not talked to in a while. Reach out to them. A simple phone call is a great way to start but with the ability to video-conference so readily at our fingertips, this offers another great way to communicate with people in your network. For those people who are geographically closer, there is nothing like a coffee/tea, a meal, or beverage of choice, to keep moving forward on relationship building.
Tip 3). Another simple way to continue to build that relationship is to check in with your contacts and ask if they have any upcoming projects they are working on. You may then offer some advice, a helping hand, or refer them to someone you know who might be helpful to them. You can also bring up any big projects you have coming up and ask them if they have any advice.
By reaching out to people and working on relationship building, your network will be strong and continue to be strong. Yes, it takes effort to build and maintain relationships but the effort pays off in the long run as you never know who might help you sometime in the future.
I call my brother weekly, video-conference monthly with my backpacking buddies Rees & Howard, call my dad weekly, and take my wife out to eat for date night once a week. Yes, there is time and energy spent but the payoffs are great.
Richard Feller talks about the fact that you are the average of the six people you hang out with. As I look at my closest friends I realize that I get kindness from my brother, thoughtfulness from Rees, humor from Howard, and groundedness from my wife. I choose my friends wisely now that I know that.
I also believe you are the average of the six professionals you hang out with as well. That is why I grabbed a beer with James last week, am having lunch with Tammy next week, video-conferenced with Bob, and agreed to meet with Andrea last week. I learn from each of them and hopefully, they learn something from me.
So get out of that comfort zone and move into your “stretch zone” where you actively build your relationships and don’t take them for granted.
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a monthly newsletter for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
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Paula Brand says
Jim this is excellent advice. Some people become disillusioned and cynical about “networking” but I find that’s usually when they don’t see it as relationship building. Seeing it as starting and growing relationships makes it seem more manageable and enjoyable.
Jim Peacock says
Thanks Paula, we are definitely on the same page here. If you are just “counting connections” then you are missing the point. Relationships take time and effort but often result in great benefits.
I think about our relationship. Met you at MACCA a couple times and now we Zoom video-conference monthly with our group. Time and effort is what it takes.
Yes, Jim. I was thinking about our relationship too as I read your post. I appreciate the times I met you in person at MACCA/NCDA and I’m thankful for the times we spoke on the phone/Zoomed in between. In fact, I was trying to thin out some files yesterday and found notes from our conversations over time and it reinforced the idea that relationships build over time.
SUMMARY ADVICE: Don’t just add people to your connection list and never follow up for a real conversation. Then the relationship will go nowhere or take a VERY long time to develop. Many people don’t follow up so you will stand out if you do.
Jim Peacock says
Chaim Shapiro says it best; “Identify on LInkedIn, Engage on Twitter, and seal the deal over coffee.”