Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Part 5 of 5 for the October edition of "Converging over Coffee"
Who needs another talk telling them that networking and relationship building is going to be really important for professional growth? Absolutely no one. We have generally accepted this as fact. But the execution does create anxiety which might be why this still comes up often in the conversations with engineers and other professionals. Some of the concerns below may sound familiar, but a few simple shifts in approach may help us enjoy the relationship building process more.
Not sure how to?
Definitely don’t do “networking”. Collecting contact info & exchanging handshakes (or elbow bumps) is not a substitute for the effort needed to build a genuine relationship. I actually think I’m hopeless at networking, but maybe it’s not something worth being good at. Put the time into building more invested relationships with just a few to begin with.
Not sure when to?
Don’t wait for events & definitely don’t wait till you are transitioning jobs. That’s hard because that is when building relationships feel like a calculated transaction. The time for it is now… in our work teams, in our project teams… where we have logical basis for building natural, productive relationships.
Not sure with whom?
I think it’s normal to be more interested in certain people that match your interests and ambitions, or those who could provide informal mentoring. But I like to allow for an element of serendipity and stay receptive to super interesting people I meet outside my usual domain.
Don’t think you are the social type?
Some people do appear more natural with creating rapport and make building connections look easy. But the right style of relationship building is the style that is natural to us, which might be a more reserved version, but the fact that it’s authentic is why it will actually work.
Beyond the above shifts in approach, these efforts to build rewarding relationships can really elevate everyone involved if we pay attention to creating a personal Connection, seeking to not only receive but provide Value and practicing lots of Empathy in the process.