I've said it many times and it bears repeating: relationship building is the path to success. Recently, I was invited to attend a social gathering of executive women. The gathering was a drop-in kind of thing at a local restaurant. The timing of the social event was in between me rushing from a leadership team retreat and heading to choir rehearsal afterwards, so I didn't have a lot of time.
As busy as I was, I could have used my schedule as an excuse and brushed it off, but I'm so glad that I didn't. I met a fun group of women, all doing interesting things. It reminded me of how important relationship building is in business and in life.
In today's professional landscape, success not only depends on hard work and skills, but also on building strong relationships and networks. Whether you are starting a new job, aiming for a promotion, or seeking new opportunities, fostering meaningful connections with colleagues and industry professionals is important. Building connections and nurturing those connections takes energy and effort. Maximizing those connections takes takes strategy, so devise a plan and be fully present and purposeful. Building authentic relationships begins with being genuinely interested in others. Take the time to engage with your colleagues or those new to your circle by asking open-ended questions, actively listening, and showing empathy. This will help foster trust and create a supportive and collaborative work and social environment. To be truly effective you must be proactive in networking. Networking goes beyond casual conversations in the breakroom. Actively seek opportunities to expand your network by attending industry events, conferences, and seminars. Join professional organizations or online communities related to your field of expertise. Remember, networking is a continuous process, and nurturing connections will pay off in the long run. Before you start, I'll tell you like I tell my close friends - "Fix your face."
Whether you're meeting colleagues or making new connections, be sure to walk in with a positive attitude and a smile on your face. Be curious and non-judgmental, and listen for ways that you can be a resource or of service to others. And, most importantly, don't look at new connections as an opportunity "pitch" your business or sell them something. You will walk away with a handful of business cards, but no true connection and without the relationship, there's no collaboration.
One way to serve others or seek a deeper relationship with someone you admire is to form a bond via a mentorship relationship. Find someone who can guide you by sharing their experiences and knowledge. Equally important is being a mentor to others. Offering mentorship showcases your leadership skills and helps you build a reputation as a team player who is invested in the growth of others.
People who are not plugged into professional groups often ask me where to find connections, particularly if they are new to a city or industry. My first suggestion is to start with your immediate circle at work. Ask to join them and other co-workers for lunch, so that you can get to know each other better.
Next, check online for local "Business Afterhours" events and attend those. We recently hosted one through our local Chamber of Commerce. The room was packed and we had a blast. We had lots of terrific finger foods, a variety of drinks, and live music in a separate space so that it could be heard, but not so loud to drown out the engaging conversations taking place. In short, it was huge success, so you might consider hosting an afterhours event at your business.
You can also use social media outlets to find groups with like interests. You can find them on Facebook and LinkedIn, for example. You might find a connection based on a particular demographic, like a professional women's group, an industry or even a hobby. Social media platforms offer excellent opportunities to connect with individuals in your field. Building relationships and nurturing networks are essential for career growth and personal development. By investing time and effort into developing strong connections, you can create a support system that opens doors to new opportunities, knowledge, and collaborations. Remember, the key lies in treating others with respect, staying engaged, and being proactive in fostering meaningful connections. So, start today, and build relationships that will fuel professional and friendship journey for years to come.