Relationship building should be a constant in your professional life. It certainly is in mine. While I’ve successfully built my leadership development and sales coaching business for many years, I’ve never done any advertising. It’s all been about relationships.
Is relationship building a core part of your daily/weekly/annual activities? Perhaps you’re waiting until you “have enough time for it.” Well, realize this…there will never be a perfect time. So, the right time is…right now!
Relationship Building is Not Random
If you’ve worked with me, you know that I stress that systematizing certain processes is a key to long-term success. This is certainly true with relationship building. It is not a random activity done while bumping into someone in the office. Being strategic about who you target and how you go about is critical. This will allow you to plan how you’re going to build and strengthen certain relationships that will be meaningful to your career growth. Also, your contributions to the relationship will be noticed and acknowledged in a deeper way than those who are doing it at a perfunctory level
Basic Steps for Relationship Building
Step 1: Determine your targets.
Not everyone in your department or company merits your relationship-building efforts. Focus on those who you can either learn from or who can influence the path your career takes.
Is there someone in your organization whose institutional knowledge is valuable to you? Is there someone who does your job but has done it longer or has had more success? Target these people and start developing a stronger bond. You’ll do this by being interested in them, their work, their knowledge, and what they can impart to you. Don’t try to get their attention by being interesting TO them…you need to be interested IN them.
While this might seem like you will only be looking up the chain of command for targets, that’s not always true. Your direct reports can influence your career with positive, or negative, feedback during your performance reviews. But among them, who is the “A” player that already has the respect of your peers and higher-ups? That person’s opinion of your work will prove to be important, so you should make sure you’ve nurtured a positive relationship with them. Again, start by being interested in them and what drives them. Then, you can further the relationship by being a mentor who is genuinely interested in their success and is helping them achieve their goals.
Prepare Questions That Move the Relationship Forward
Before you approach a “target,” prepare a series of questions that focuses on their goals, challenges, and what they hope to achieve this year. Reserve some time when you can ask these questions and then….listen! It’s so important that you absorb what they are saying so that you can develop your own plan to build the relationship based on what they’ve told you. Probe, probe, probe! In my experience, people appreciate being asked about their challenges and will open up to reveal details about their professional life that will only work to strengthen the relationship they have with you. A win, win!
Let Them Get to Know You
And lastly, be prepared to articulate what you want them to know and appreciate about you. This is your elevator pitch. Deliver your goals succinctly and clearly along with what you want to produce going forward. They need to see value in the relationship with you and it’s your job to get them to see the possibilities in it. The balance between caring about their goals/challenges and communicating your own is the foundation of a strong relationship. Succeed at this and you’ll be viewed in a stronger light.
The great coach Marshall Goldsmith has said, People buy you because they like and trust you. Follow the steps I’ve laid out and you’ll be well on your way to developing that trust!