2 minutes to read
Networking may be the most frustrating part of finding a job and building a business. First you have to muster the courage to go to a meeting of strangers. Then you have to figure out how to approach them. Next you have to get a card or information so you can follow up later. Finally you have to follow up and create a relationship. If you feel overwhelmed read on. I’m going to simplify this process.
Everything you want in your life will come from relationships. Professional success, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth come from them. The more and better connections you have the happier you will be. But there are limits. Most people can maintain about 150 relationships. That may sounds like a lot. Still, you need to be intentional about the people in whom you invest time, energy, and emotion.
We tend to think of networking groups and meetings as being the best place to make connections. But that may not be true. Any situation where you organically meet new people is likely to be a better place to make new contacts. Social situations, classes, even church create a natural basis for rapport.
Look for people you like and sense a bond with. And if your gut says something’s wrong trust it.
Building the Relationship
I always figure you might as well approach life like everybody’s your friend or nobody is; don’t make much difference. ∞ Kevin Kline as Paden in Silverado
Unless you’re content to keep your connection at Facebook friends level you’ll need to set a foundation for greater depth. The building blocks are mutual trust and service.
No association gets beyond the acquaintance stage until both people feel they can trust each other. Some people offer you trust right away. It’s yours to lose. Others trust in stages. You’ll have to figure out into which mode you fall. It can be frustrating establishing trust when modes don’t match. But it may be worth it. In any event, the process will work better if you are aware of this dynamic.
Building and maintaining trust comes from helping the other person. I don’t necessarily mean by convincing them to buy what you’re selling. That may be appropriate if what you’ve got will really help the person. But you’ll want relationships with people besides customers.
Be curious about the person’s life and business. What challenges does he or she face? What resources or contacts do you have that can help? Think about how you can provide the means for success. Most importantly, give without an expectation of return. If you expect reciprocation every time you help you’re not building a relationship. You’re just contracting a series of debts. Most people don’t like feeling obligated. As a result you won’t create mutual trust.
The process may sound lengthy. In some case it will take time. But often you can move from contact to relationship in a matter of a few days or weeks. You’ve probably done it before, albeit not intentionally.
While I’ve focused on business relationships, all the above is true for personal relationships. Other factors may impact whom you choose for a spouse and friends. But fundamental to a marriage and companions is mutual trust and selfless service.
How have you built trust in your relationships? Please comment below.