4 Steps to Creating Solid Professional Connections

2-½ minutes to read

Creating the relationships you need to get the job you want can be difficult. When the military assigns you to a unit everyone understands they need to build a team. So relationships develop as part of the regular workflow. But for the most part, connections have little to do with getting your next billet. In civilian life, most of your success will rest on how depth and strength of your network…

How to Create Relationships When You Don't Know How

The Military Taught You Relationship Skills

Even though you don’t need connections to get a billet, you learned relationship-building skills. They went by a different name. Leadership and team building require understanding how to motivate colleagues to meet the mission.

Civilians think the military orders people around. We know that’s not reality. Most often, we seek to influence each other. And influence comes from trust. Trust comes from mutual understanding and confidence in a person’s motives. In other words, people with whom we have strong relationships influence us.

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Once you figure out how you built mutual trust with a person, you’ll know how to create other relationships.

Reverse Engineer Your Relationships

Have you ever thought about how you created a friendship? At some point, you met someone and hit it off. Over time you came to trust the person. Months or years later you look back and realize you’ve been friends for a long time. You reminisce about the crazy things you did. It seems to have just happened.

But that can't be. If you hadn’t interacted the friendship would never have grown. You talked about things. And you did things that created mutual trust. Probe your memory. What were the landmark events that solidified the relationship? Reverse engineer the process you went through:

1. Examples. Choose a solid relationship and a bumpy one. It’s best to use professional ones. They’re what you want to replicate. But if necessary, social friends or family members will work. Compare and contrast the two as you complete the next three steps.

2. Assess. Think about why the good relationship developed trust and the other one didn’t. Consider communication style, outlook, values, and mutual interests. Do you connect on several of these in the solid relationship and none in the other one?

3.Steps. Identify the critical points at which trust developed in the solid relationship. Did the other one lack similar waypoints? Steps 2 and 3 should give you a clear picture of how you built the good relationship. They should also reveal why the other one is bumpy.

4. Replicate. Can you use what you learned about the solid relationship to improve the bumpy one? Try using it as a test case. Did it improve? Now identify someone you want to make a part of your network. Apply what you’ve learned and assess how well it worked. Since everyone is different, make adjustments as you go.

This process may seem manipulative. But no one is forcing the other person to engage with you. You’re offering them the opportunity to get to know you.

You now understand how to build relationships. But that doesn't mean everyone will take your offer. People have their own agendas. If someone turns you down, move on. Set aside time each day for relationship development. Soon you’ll have the kind of network that will make for a smooth transition to civilian life.

Do you find it difficult to connect with people?

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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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