Good relationships contribute to your overall health, wellness and well-being. It is never too late to evaluate the relationships you have – let some go and make new ones.
One of my goals this year is to put in more effort in my current and potential relationships. I will celebrate and be grateful for every invite I receive, whether I attend the event or not. As an introvert, this has to be a goal because it is not intuitive to pay attention to this very important skill. In fact, the natural tendency is to avoid it at all costs.
At a swanky event in a posh hotel, I met a young lady who was ‘networking’ like crazy. She managed to get everyone’s contact details and was extremely personable. I was secretly jealous because this is a skill that I have not mastered. I am more of the ‘sit back and let people come to me’ type. Watching the smoothness of the operation from my corner, I began to ponder, not just on the power of people and relationships, but on the foundation on which those relationships are built.
The best approach is possibly a mid-point between the sit-back approach and aggressive networking – not too laid back and not too forward. Personally, I find the term networking a bit unsettling. It comes across as being transactional – taking, grabbing and using a relationship to achieve your aim. You may argue that that’s the point of these types of connections and you may be right. However, it sounds manipulative and infers that people are disposable when they are no longer found to be useful. Have you ever been in the position where you felt you were no longer useful to someone and they literally disappear from your life or start to avoid you? It is not a good feeling.
As a senior leader in the healthcare space, my achievements have been mainly through the influence of my relationships. However, you need to build those relationships in a kind and nurturing way.
Healthy formal and informal relationships are powerful and here are three steps to building them:
Take the time to genuinely get to know them. It is better to make one great connection than to make ten poor ones. Forget about the ‘networking’ books that tell you to ‘speed date’. Follow your intuition and have genuine conversations with your attention undivided. It is not so polite to have a ‘wandering eye’. People have so many interesting sides to them and I genuinely love to get to know as much as they are willing to reveal. You will both know when the conversation is coming to an end and usually, if the connection has been made, you will exchange contact details or they may come back to you at the end of the evening.
Recognise when there is no spark
As much as you need to have the patience to get to know people, you must also recognise if they are not interested in talking to you. It can be extremely awkward when someone is trying to get away from you and you do not recognise it. If you sense that they want to move on, be confident enough to clarify and give them a chance to leave. I say ‘clarify’ because you may get it wrong.
Please, please, please, follow up with the connections you make. Do not waste a new connection – they may end up becoming a business associate or a friend. State clearly that you enjoyed talking to them and preferably say what it was that you enjoyed or learned in the conversation. It may blossom immediately or you may need to contact them a few more times. The general rule of thumb is to contact them three times and let it rest if you are not able to build on the relationship.
Good relationships are the key to life and everyone must be willing to give as much as they are willing to take. The potency of relationships is immeasurable.
Let me challenge you today: try these three steps when you meet a new person and let me know how it goes. Have you tried to ‘network’? How did it go?