The power of building relationships cannot be overstated. While the concept “building relationships” sounds like a fancy business buzzword, there’s really a lot of substance behind it.
Many people do fine going about their business keeping their head down. Sometimes they poke their head out from their cubicle like a prairie dog when there’s free cake to be had but other than that, they do their own thing. They only worry about interacting with the people that they need to on a day to day basis.
Unfortunately, these people are shortchanging their own career. In this article, we will look at the art of building relationships you need to succeed in your career.
Remember, you are the CEO of your own career. How far you go towards achieving the goals you want for yourself in your career is squarely on your shoulders. Utilize the art of building relationships to help power success in your career.
Let’s take a look at why building relationships is so important to your career and how to go about doing it.
How Building Relationships Helps Your Career
Building relationships is often cited as one of the key drivers for building a successful career. It is absolutely mission critical. Building relationships helps your career in so many ways. When you make an effort to build relationships with your clients, it shows that you actually care about them as customers.
Creating positive and supportive relationships with your fellow coworkers will help you perform your job better. When they see that you are an important member of the team, they will want to work with you and come to look forward to interacting with you.
As you develop meaningful dialogue with your boss and deepen the relationship, he or she will see that they can trust you. They see you as someone who does what they say they are going to do and that builds trust. Building the trust and relationship with your boss can help you immensely in your career.
As we will see in this article shortly, there are some key people you should build relationships outside of work that can be hugely beneficial to you as well. Everywhere you look, you will see the value of creating strong relationships to propel your career.
Who To Build Relationships With
Ideally, you want to build relationships both inside and outside your company. I realize this might sound a bit strange, so let me explain:
The people inside your company can really help with the day to day aspects of your job and career. These include your boss or bosses, your fellow coworkers, and I’m going to include vendors you might work with.
Outside of your company, there are other groups of people you should work to build great relationships with. These include your customers, mentors, and key folks in your industry.
Let’s take a deeper look at these groups:
Internally At Work
This should immediate pop into your mind. It is super important to build a good relationship with your boss or bosses.
Many people have one boss. I’ve worked in several organizations where I really had numerous bosses I had to develop relationships with. In any event, this is a critical relationship to build.
Make sure you have ongoing, open communication with your boss. Stay clear on your objectives and priorities. Know what areas create the biggest impact for your supervisor (and therefore you).
Be aligned on strategic initiatives and how you can help shape and influence that whenever possible. This all becomes possible when you and your boss(es) are on the same page through a good working relationship.
This is pretty much a no brainer as well. You can most likely see the benefit of solid working relationships with those people you interact with at work on a regular basis.
It’s a wonderful thing to know someone you work with has your back and you have theirs as you navigate your career and work product. These is a direct result of creating and building great relationships with your associates.
Keep open dialogue and a create a sense of teamwork and fun whenever possible.
This could really be included in either in or out of work. Some of us work with internal customers, some of us with external customers.
If you are client facing, then you have to be able to build trustful, advisor-like relationships with them. You want them to see you as a great resource in whatever capacity they are paying you or your company. That is your value to them. This comes from creating those trusting and meaningful relationships.
If your customers are inside your company, it’s super important to create great working relationships with them as well. Being in recruiting I have internal customers (hiring managers) and external customers (candidates).
Outside Of Work
You can have mentors both inside and outside of work. Best case scenario is to have mentors at both.
I like to stay in touch with my favorite bosses of all time. I continue to get advice and direction from them from time to time. They are from previous jobs so they are really outside of my day to day work.
I also have several mentors who do similar work to what I do, but are more senior and therefore more experienced and have some great wisdom. It takes work to maintain these relationships but it is well worth it.
Key Industry Folks
I work in recruiting. There are people at other companies who oversee huge recruiting machines. I like to have strong relationships with some of these folks that I get along well with. That way we are able to offer up advice to each other from time to time. If I am facing a new challenge, I can pick up the phone and call for some input.
There are also some people I’ve developed relationships with over the years who have expertise in a specific area. They are awesome when I need some advice in their area of expertise. Conversely, I can help them from time to time with my expertise.
Not all of us work with vendors in our day to day job responsibilities. If you do, it’s well worth building strong relationships with your most important vendor partners.
Not all vendors are great. The ones that are truly invested in helping your company succeed are worth the time to create meaningful relationships with.
In one fashion or another, we are all a vendor to someone. We all have customers. Recognize who helps you succeed with your customers and treat them accordingly.
The Art Of Building Relationships
Building relationships is part science and part art. To be an effective relationship builder, you’ve got to genuinely be interested in others. Here are some strategies that can help you build relationships to help you in your career.
We’ve looked at the key groups of people that you should build relationships with. Now let’s take a look at some specific relationship building strategies and ideas.
1. Be Appreciative
One of the foundations of building relationships is being appreciative of everyone you partner with at work. This includes your clients, your boss or bosses, and your fellow coworkers.
Take the time to say thank and be genuinely appreciative of what they have done for you. It might be in the form of incoming revenue from a client, or could be the tips and guidance your boss provides to you. It might be the report or presentation your fellow associate helped you with that helped you land the new client.
Always be appreciative of how others interact with and help you during the course of business.
2. Spend Your Time Wisely
It’s not uncommon for me to try to run in too many differing directions. When I do this, I am not very effective at any of them. When I focus on the most important items, I am much more effective.
This is suggested with relationships as well. Identify the most meaningful relationships you should create and maintain for both your career and others.
Remember, this isn’t a one-sided deal. You have to be a person that someone wants to invest time in to create a solid relationship. Speaking of which…
3. Give as Much as You Get
This is really true in all relationships and it certainly applies here. You have to be able to provide equal value in the relationship.
Maybe you’re a mentor to someone. To your boss, you provide a great work product and that’s some very good value for your boss. You provide insight and value to your clients and customers — whether they are internal or external.
Make sure you take the time and spend the energy to give as much as you get, if not more.
4. Be Social
Work relationships don’t just get created and developed at work. Many times, this happens outside of the building you work in. It can happen over lunch, coffee, and adult beverage, at the gym, and many other places.
Take the time to invite key folks you want to build relationships to lunch or coffee or whatever works. You don’t always have to talk about work topics. Some of the best working relationships get the foundation built outside of the office without talking about work stuff at all.
5. Get out of Your Comfort Zone
It’s one thing to ask a coworker to lunch to start building a relationship. It’s quite another to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never met because you think they could be a key relationship.
Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and develop some relationships with people you don’t know.
I have reached out to quite a few people that recruit for the same kind of people in the same industry as me but work at competitors. Unsurprisingly, most of them have ignored me. With several that haven’t ignored me, we’ve built meaningful, referral type relationships.
6. Help Others Succeed
There is probably no better way at building relationships you need to succeed in your career than helping others succeed. This one thing is so powerful it will win you instant relationships. Think about the last time someone you worked with went out of their way to help you in a critical work moment.
I’ve recently joined a new company. I am working on recruiting someone who I believe will be a huge success at the company I am now at. The person that runs the Western half of the US offered to help me. His exact email words were “Let me know if there is anything I can do. I’m more than happy to do what I can to help land this individual”. You can bet he made an instant fan in me.
The ability to build relationships has the power to help you incredibly in your career. There is no one magic technique that creates these partnerships but rather a variety of methods and approaches.
Through the course of this article, we’ve looked at the art of building relationship you need to succeed in your career. Take what works for you and apply it liberally to give your career a significant lift.
Remember, the success you achieve in your career is entirely up to you. When you put the time and energy into building strong work related relationships, you give yourself a huge career boost.