You want to advance your career or grow your business, but you are not sure how to build and maintain the professional relationships that you need in order to succeed.
No matter how much you struggle with developing professional relationships, you cannot climb the ladder if you do not network. According to the latest research, 85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking. Despite that statistic, one in four professionals do not network at all.
To network effectively, you must foster high-quality relationships with a variety of people in a variety of roles. Maintaining professional relationships is not easy, though. Several obstacles may stand between you and the people who could positively influence your career.
Business owners and ambitious professionals rarely enjoy much free time. With so much to do at work, you might not feel like you have room in your schedule to talk to people, even if those people are eager to get to know you. When you cannot meet everyone, prioritize the people who could have the biggest potential impact, and let them know you value their company.
Valuable connections tend to be busy people, too, which means you cannot expect to earn their time without good reason. Approach new relationships with open-ended questions and provide value of your own. Share an interesting book or article. Even if you end up getting more than you give, relationships should benefit both parties.
If you do not feel particularly valuable, work on building your confidence. Your new connection might have more experience than you, but no one knows everything. Bring your niche knowledge and unique perspective to the table so you do not come across as being needy.
Selfish networkers rarely make it far. In every relationship, focus on not only what the other person offers you, but also what you offer in return. Follow up regularly with important connections to stay in touch.
Remember, it is the quality, relevance, and influence of the people in your network that matters — not their titles or roles. There are various kinds of people you need in your network; here is how you can build professional relationships with them:
Happy clients beget more happy clients. Sometimes, those clients even open doors to new, more lucrative opportunities. The same is true for vendors: Impress them, and they might invite you to join them in bigger and better things, or they may refer you to others or make introductions.
Keep your commitments to clients and vendors without fail. Go above and beyond the requirements of a transactional relationship to answer questions and check in on how things are going. Nearly everyone appreciates face-to-face meetings, so put in appearances to keep relationships healthy.
Plenty of employees have left their old employers and found success on their own. Your co-workers might decide to start their own businesses, and if you prove to them that you know your stuff, they might want you to join them. As your co-workers change companies, staying in touch will also broaden your network of contacts at potential future employers.
Establish and maintain effective working relationships with employees and co-workers by building trust. Never blame others publicly or put someone in an uncomfortable situation. Prove to others that you are a reliable, capable person who they should want to know better.
Bankers do not just make loans. By building relationships with your financial connections, you can improve your odds for potential future financing and learn important details about what is evaluated during loan review and approval.
Instead of asking for loans and leaving it at that, talk to your financial network about potential solutions for problems you envision that might need solving. Even if you do not need funding, maintain strong relationships with your bankers to keep your options open.
Your career is only as strong as the network that supports it.
This article does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. Although the information contained herein is intended to be accurate, Cathay Bank does not assume liability for loss or damage due to reliance on such information.