3 Ways to Build Genuine, Lasting Relationships in Your Industry
with Joel Marion
with guest Joel Marion #MakingBank S4E24
Mastering the ability to network and build relationships can be one of the key factors in determining your success in business. Sure, without the right infrastructure, talent and leadership there would be no business, but learning the game that’s played outside the lines can be crucial in determining the eventual success or failure of any business or career.
Unfortunately there’s no quick fix for this side of the job, and blindly attending networking events is unlikely to get you anywhere. Learning how to intentionally build real relationships based on trust and mutual respect takes time and effort. Here are a few key tips to get you headed in the right direction.
1. Everything doesn’t always have to be about work!
Your coworkers and industry peers are people too, and just like most people, they probably don’t want to be saddled down with a work related agenda all day every day! You have to find a way to be genuine and authentic, just as you would with friends outside work. Get drinks, go for a walk, see a movie. Doing things outside of normal business hours when you’re not in work mode can give you a window into each other’s real personality and help build rapport.
Let your walls down a bit and don’t be afraid to selectively share interests and vulnerabilities, both work based and otherwise. Doing so will help build trust and it is just as important to do so with your work makes as it is with your close friends, significant other and family. Letting people see the real you is a necessary component to any successful relationship and your business connections are no exception. People can’t like you if they don’t know you.
2. Offer to Help Others in Key Moments
There are myriad ways you can ease the life of the people around you, and picking the right moments to do so can be a boon. You don’t always have to bend over backwards either. Sometimes the small things are appreciated most.
Covering work in a pinch when someone is swamped – or offering a connection to a person who can – is a good example of small effort that is highly appreciated. Same goes for giving references when appropriate, key bits of insight or advice – if you genuinely have it – and even just being there as a sounding board for ideas or frustrations are all great ways to pitch in and contribute something meaningful without breaking a sweat or overburdening yourself.
Even giving a simple compliment can have a meaningful impact. Learning the art of genuinely letting others know what you like about them or something they’ve done can give them a boost and help forge a tighter bond between you. No one likes a brown noser, but find the things you like about others, from traits to achievements to anything else and once in awhile, when they’re least expecting it, let them know.
When you help others without expecting anything in return, you build the kind of relationships that reward you 10 fold. Building these types of relationships will not only give you a network of people you can call upon, you might find people helping you without you even having to ask. It will also serve to build a good reputation among others, and before you know it, people will be trying to build these relationships with you as well! Which brings us to our next point…
3. Identify the RIGHT people to build relationships with
The above steps will all be for naught if your energy is spent on the wrong people. You may build genuine relationships, but if the goal in doing so is to build your business in the process, you need to be selective.
Often the people right around you, the ones who it is easiest to get to know, may not necessarily be the best people to know. They may be great, they may be talented, but if you’re a graphic designer who only knows other graphic designers, there isn’t going to be a lot of variety in your circle. Without variety you won’t be able to build a team and you’ll also never know what opportunities you might be missing. Tapping into other areas and expanding your network to include people with different backgrounds will give you added perspective and more people to lean on when you need a favor or a piece of advice.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. What areas do you need help with? How can you help others? Find the people who have complementary skill sets and start applying these principles. Offer a hand if you see an opportunity, and later down the line you may have someone to call on to give you help or insight into an area where you lack expertise.
As Joel Marion put it, having a business partner who could handle ‘everything else’ allowed Joel to have tunnel vision and simply focus on what he was good at: marketing.
Who are the key players in your industry? Who are the top sellers, the best marketers? Who has the biggest network? If you don’t know them already, find ways to bump elbows until they start remembering your name. Know them, know their work, and when you see them, have something to talk about. Using the genuine compliment tactic can be key here, especially in a short time frame. Once they remember your face you have a platform to begin building a more substantial relationship.
Like it or not, the social component to work is extremely important. Learning how to make connections and build relationships can often have a bigger effect on your career than your resume and work ethic.
Just like in business, it may take time to truly begin to understand how to build these relationships and be able to do so consistently. Keep going. Remember that everyone else wants the same thing you do: to build and be successful. Find ways to connect, open up and develop real relationships with the right people in your industry, and eventually you will see the whole world open up in front of you.