Lots of folks have been asking to do guest posts on this career advice blog lately. Here’s one by Melissa Crossman of Colorado Technical University. It focuses on the career success benefits of building and maintaining long term relationships.
Relationships are important to your life and career success. I devote an entire section of my latest career advice book Climbing the Corporate Ladder and 20 tweets in Success Tweets to them. Here is what Melissa has to say….
Business Benefits of Long-Term Relationships — Melissa Crossman
Relationships are extremely important in building a career – especially in a world connected by social networks. Recent college graduates tend to think of networking as something you do once in order to meet someone who will give you a job. Students and even professionals don’t realize that networking can and should occur anywhere and is not a “you help me” situation.
For freelancers and small business owners, networking is a lifelong aspiration. New connections keep independent workers afloat. Job hunters should adapt the freelance state of mind, meeting as many people as possible and maintaining those relationships over the long term. Below are three strategies for creating and sustaining long-term business relationships.
Use Social Networking
LinkedIn offers the unique opportunity to have recommendations from former employers, co-workers and subordinates visible and openly available. While it’s always a good idea to be a good worker, the role of online networking means making a good impression is vital. Even supervisors from short term internships or contract jobs may be willing to provide an introduction to a contact or a glowing review. Don’t be shy; after an appropriate amount of time “friend” co-workers, classmates, and those you meet at events in your field. It’s almost no commitment on either end, and a little maintenance of your social media platform may open the doors for advice or even a tip on a job opening in the future. Almost no one will mind a single, considerate message asking about possibilities.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Go to the office holiday party, but also consider checking out something you wouldn’t normally attend. Long-term networking means widening your net and meeting people a little outside of your field. Are you in publishing? Go to an advertiser’s event. Attend a charity function in your area to meet local business owners who may benefit from an unexpected partnership.
You have something to offer, something you may not even be aware of; so build relationships with everyone from the barista you see every morning to the business-man at the gym. Most importantly, don’t be closed-minded when meeting new people.
Help (and Make) a Friend
As an editor, designer, or any kind of professional, you’ll often encounter friends who could use your services. Though it may seem counterintuitive to work for free when you can’t find someone to pay you, these kind of favors can pay back dividends when job hunting. You’ve basically expanded your network to include all of your friend’s contacts by creating a contact who knows your skills and personality firsthand. Furthermore, by accepting projects you are enhancing your portfolio which will be crucial when someone important wants to see it. The flip side of this principle is to make networking primarily social. People can sense desperation, and someone who is trying to work an angle comes off as a user. Instead, think of networking events as a social gathering, but also in terms of how you can help the other person. By understanding someone’s personal and professional life, you make them more comfortable and may find an opportunity to help — or be helped.
Job hunters hate the old adage, “It’s not what you know: it’s who you know.” But increasingly in the current economic climate, an in with the company can make all the difference in the world. Think of making contacts as an ongoing part of your career health. Your work as a networker is never finished, but over time you’ll be more comfortable meeting people and checking in periodically, which makes you a better interviewee, a more enjoyable coworker, and ultimately, more hire-able than your solitary counterparts.
I like Melissa’s last paragraph. Yesterday I saw a quote from Bo Bennett, auhor of Year to Success: “A referral is the key to the door of resistance.” You get referrals by building solid, long term, mutually beneficial relationships with others. It’s easy to build relationships if you remember the career advice in Tweet 129 in Success Tweets: “There is no quid pro quo in effective relationships. Do for others without being asked or waiting for them to do for you.”
The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Successful people build and nurture strong relationships with the important people in their lives. Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to begin building relationships. Don’t think quid pro quo when it comes to building relationships. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Be willing to go first. Put yourself out there and do what you can for others. You’ll be demonstrating your relationship-building skills and your interpersonal competence. Take the first step today. Find someone for whom you can do something – then do it. You’ll be surprised at what you might get from a selfless act.
That’s the career advice I found in Melissa Crossman’s ideas on relationship building. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my daily musings on life and career success.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.
PPS: Have you seen my membership site, My Corporate Climb? It’s devoted to helping people just like you create career success inside large corporations. You can find out about it by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.