As Valentine’s Day approaches, we’re probably all focused on our significant other or the personal relationships we have in our lives, but this is also a good time to reflect on how we go about building professional relationships with others. Professional relationships are very much like personal relationships in that the best ones are based on a genuine connection with other people, not based on selling something or getting something out of the relationship. If we want to be successful building professional relationships, we need to be focused on making that genuine connection from the very first meeting and maintaining it through the life of the relationship.
Tips for Building Professional Relationships
- Consider who you want to build relationships with. They could be people in your current occupation or industry, other industries or maybe they share a similar passion or interest. Being conscious about who you want to bring into you want to bring into your network and why can help foster that genuine connection.
- Go where these people are. If you’re looking to make a connection with people in a certain industry or field, you’ve got to find them where they usually are. Networking events, meetup groups, trade shows and conferences are all great ways to connect with people who have specific areas of interest and expertise. Don’t forget social media and online forums too.
- Approach the connections you want to make. This may sound scary but you can’t start building professional relationships with people until you start talking to them. Remember that we’re trying to build an authentic connection, so don’t approach them trying to sell your product or service; just get to know them and find out what they’re interested in and passionate about. It’s okay to be selective about who you start a professional relationship with, so if you find that you’re just not connecting with someone you don’t need to pursue that relationship further.
- Maintain the relationship. Once you have that relationship established it’s important to keep the connection going. You don’t need to talk with the person every day, but checking in once in a while over email or meeting up for coffee are great ways to maintain the relationship.
Watch this week’s video to get more detail on how to apply these tips to your own professional relationships.