There is so much more to succeeding in business than just being good at what you do. The key to success in your career is learning how to build strategic relationships. The relationships you form throughout your career will be instrumental in helping you achieve your goals.
If you’re tempted to just put your head down and work towards your career goals solo, you may want to reconsider. When you learn how to build strong relationships in business, you will unlock new levels of success. Keep reading to learn more about how to build strong, beneficial relationships in your career.
1. Identify your goals
No matter where you are at in your career, it’s important to have goals to keep you on track. When you have clear goals, it makes it easier to align yourself with others who can help you meet your goals or are following a similar track towards goals of their own.
Once you are crystal clear on what it is that you want to get out of your career, you will attract people who will help you get there. Whether you are trying to launch a business or get a big promotion, it’s important to act with those goals in mind to attract the right kind of people into your circle.
Having a singular focus on your business goals also makes it easier to talk with others when you are trying to build a relationship.
When you are trying to build a business relationship, the other person is observing you as much as you are observing them. They want to see that you are committed and clear in your goals before agreeing to align with you.
2. Look around you
You usually don’t have to look far to find someone to build a strategic business relationship with. You’d be surprised that oftentimes the people who might work right beside you in your office or at the local coffee shop could be a great help to move you forward in your business.
Aligning with a direct colleague may be difficult because your business goals may be competitive in nature. However, there are people in other departments across your company or even your clients who are worth investing some time with.
Make conversation with colleagues, contacts, and customers whenever you can. Be an open book about your goals and ask thoughtful questions about theirs. You can pick up important details that might help you refine your goals further and give you an important perspective.
Even if the benefit from building a relationship with a colleague isn’t immediate, you never know when that relationship might come in handy. Business relationships are often like gardening. It takes a lot of cultivation and hard work up front, but it’s worth all the effort when you need to reap the rewards.
Whether you need a reference to get a new job down the road or you want to hire them to help you get your business off the ground, you never know when you might need to reach out to people you know.
3. Reach up the ladder
Don’t be afraid to look up when you build relationships in business. Up the ladder, that is. Although it may feel very intimidating to do so, there is a huge benefit to striking up relationships with people who are more advanced in their careers than you.
It goes without saying that people who are more experienced will have valuable insight for you as you move through your career. That’s why it’s so important to tap into their knowledge if you can.
Most successful people got where they did in part because someone helped them, so more often than not they are willing to help someone else in the same way.
Even if you are just starting out in an entry-level position, make conversation with the C-suite executive at the coffee maker. Or if you are just beginning your new business, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who has had success in the arena you are jumping into.
Established professionals know there is room for everyone at the table, so chances are they will be happy to share what they know. You can learn so much just by how they carry themselves and the types of things they talk about. Soak in the time and the knowledge that they share with you.
4. Utilize social and professional networks
Although many people criticize social media for its negative attributes, it can be your best friend when you’re trying to find a way to build strategic relationships in business. People share everything that’s important to them on their social media.
You can learn important things about people and identify who is right for you just by tuning in to what they post and how they present themselves. Here are the top social platforms that can help you identify people you want to align with and how to use them.
LinkedIn is a tried and true professional social networking platform. There really is no other site that has come close to it because it allows professionals to share their work experience and achievements while mixing in some personal touches as well.
You can learn a lot about someone on LinkedIn beyond just their work experience. Notice the articles that they post on their feed, the comments that they make, the companies they follow, and even the certifications that they have. These can be helpful conversation starters when you need to break the ice.
Instagram is so much more than taking pictures for your feed and chatting on stories, especially for entrepreneurs. Countless professionals are making the majority of their income on Instagram. Instagram is a place where you can build a deep connection with people who are on the same page professionally.
Entrepreneurs and other busy professionals are showing up on Instagram by providing valuable content, connecting with like-minded people, and offering their products or services for sale. The searchability feature of hashtags makes it easy to find potential contacts, mentors/mentees, friends, or customers.
The power of Facebook for people looking to build strong, long-lasting business relationships is in groups. There are Facebook groups for just about every topic you could ever imagine from fan clubs to personal interests to people trying to achieve things in life and business.
If you search keywords that match up to things you are interested in, you can find hundreds of groups that fit the bill. Whether you want to connect with people all over the world or just in your state or town, there’s a group for that. There are free groups, paid groups, private groups, and public groups.
Take your time and look through the groups that match up with what you’re looking for and make sure it’s a good fit. Take a look at the recent posts and see what types of questions are being asked, how much support there is in the community, and how active the group is.
The more engaged and supportive the group, the more likely you are to find people to connect with.
5. Attend events
One of the most underrated tricks in the book for meeting people to build business relationships with is attending good old-fashioned networking events. Many people cringe at the idea of attending networking cocktail hours or brunches because it feels intimidating, but that is where the people are.
Everyone at a networking event is looking for the same thing, so it levels the playing field. People at networking events are usually looking for one of three things: customers for their business, connections who might benefit their business, or someone to work for their business.
To feel confident going into a networking event, practice your elevator pitch. You have likely heard this term before, but an elevator pitch is a quick 30-60 second blurb about who you are and what you do. It should be short enough that you can deliver it during an elevator ride, hence the name.
Once you have a clear and confident elevator pitch, use that as your script at networking events to get the conversation going. Think about the questions that are likely to follow your pitch so that you feel prepared to answer them when you’re put on the spot.
When in doubt, be the one who asks more questions. People love to talk about themselves, so this can help you deflect away from an uncomfortable situation if you feel like you don’t have enough to talk about or you’re unsure. Be genuinely curious about other people and that will help you weed through and find your people in a busy crowd.
Related Article: 7 Tips How To Mingle With Everyone, Even If You’re An Introvert
6. Equal energy exchange
Once you’ve connected with people that you want to establish a relationship with, it’s important to make sure that you are both giving and taking equally from the relationship. Whether you are talking to someone who is below, equal to, or above you on the perceived ladder, this is so important.
There should always be an equal flow of energy from both of you. Remember the reasons why you initially connected and stay focused on that. There will be seasons in your relationship where one side may seem to give more than the other, but always work to balance the scales.
No one wants to feel like they are being used for their expertise or connections all the time without being repaid in some way. When everyone focuses on giving as much as they take, everyone gets what they need out of the relationship. This will set you up for a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.