The strength of your relationships is oftentimes the biggest indicator of your success because, the truth is, no one is successful alone. With a little reflection and strategy, you will find you have more resources available to you through your extended network than you ever imagined. The key to leveling up in your career is defining, building, and nurturing your community.
So how do you find your people and have these relationships constantly working for you? Here are some foundational elements to turn acquaintances into colleagues, and colleagues into your most trusted friends. The ultimate goal is to have people around you committed to ensuring you are consistently leveling up, and for you to have the opportunity to do the same for others.
Take Inventory of Your Relationships
The first step is to assess where your relationships currently are. Reflect on the strength of your network as related to your professional goals. What relationships do you need to build? Are there any you need to let go of that are holding you back? Don’t be afraid of asking for introductions to other people in your extended network.
By the way, if you are the smartest and most successful person in the room, you’re in the wrong room! Push yourself out of your comfort zone to get out to more events where you can level up into elevated circles of influence. It’s not sleazy or cheesy; it’s just a fact that greater access will guarantee greater success.
Get Clarity on Your Value Proposition
When you are trying to create, build and nurture relationships, your #1 focus should be on the value you provide to others. Once you have provided enough value to build a foundation of trust, only then should you begin asking for what you need. So, first things first, what do you provide that other people need? Is it something general, like positivity or kindness, or a special skill or knowledge? Can you make a helpful introduction for someone? Provide solutions for a problem they have? Make a personal recommendation on an inspiring book or life-changing vacation?
Make Meaningful Connections
There are a few keys to creating deeper connections. You will want to be genuinely interested in others and encourage people to talk about themselves. Any two people will have areas of similarity, whether it be a mutual favorite TV show or a favorite food; build on those and remain curious. Asking good, open-ended questions is a foundational element. You have something to learn from every person, so smile and give honest and authentic appreciation.
A sincere compliment goes a long way. The goal in this stage of connection is to deepen the conversation, create a bond, and leave with the other person thinking: I like that person. I enjoyed that brief interaction, and I’d be open to giving that person more of my time.
Ultimately, the best advice to create connections is the simplest: Be yourself. Be vulnerable. Know your worth. We are all drawn to authenticity. Your uniqueness is your greatest gift. So be true to yourself.
Master Your CTA
This is where so many people get awkward and miss the mark, but there is no need for it to be that way. Without a call to action (CTA), your connection stalls. You will want to end every conversation with a CTA that is specific and measurable. Examples include: I’m going to message you tomorrow and get the name of the restaurant you recommended. Or, I’d love to know more about how you handle certain challenges in your job. Can I call your office next week and pick your brain?
You don’t want to be caught in that cycle of saying, “Let’s connect again soon.” This essentially means it’s not a priority for you. If this is a person who you want to build a relationship with, take the responsibility to be the one who provides the specific time frame and desired result of the next interaction.
Follow Up or Fail
Good follow-up alone will elevate you 90% above the average person. To solidify the connection, follow up when you said you would. Send a quick greeting within 24 hours. This is where the Power of 3 comes in: You need at least three different touchpoints to deepen a relationship. That means, for example, a follow-up email, a text message, and a coffee meeting.
Add them on LinkedIn and follow them on social media. It is now super easy to stay connected and remain engaged with other people’s lives. Use your DM’s to drop into people’s inboxes on a regular basis.
Ask for What You Need
You’ve now laid the foundation for a reciprocal relationship by identifying specific people who you want in your network. You’ve provided them immense value. You’ve followed up and stayed in contact. Now is the fun part—asking for something you need. It shouldn’t be that difficult once you have established trust. People generally love to help others. But they can’t offer assistance if they don’t know what you need.
Be specific, be grateful, and offer a “no pressure ask.” This means it’s okay if they say no. Not everyone will be helpful to you. Continue offering value, building your extended network, and being of service to others, and you will eventually get exactly what you need and more.
BONUS! Engaging Conversation Deepeners
How did you get started?
What do you enjoy the most?
What are the challenges of your work?
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
That’s amazing; tell me more.
About the author: After more than a decade producing events for high-profile and celebrity clients at powerhouse companies such as Creative Artists Agency and UCLA Anderson School of Management, Megan Accardo left her corporate career to help women navigate theirs. Prior to that, she earned her master’s degree in marital and family therapy (MFT) and ran her own counseling practice, implementing various programs and groups for women. Now, she is providing high-achieving women with the tools they need to reach a greater purpose and live a more impactful life. You can find her weekly on the Power Your Purpose podcast, at her dynamic workshops around Los Angeles, and inside her signature, one-on-one coaching program, From Stuck to Unstoppable. You can find her at @meganaccardo or meganaccardo.com.
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This story was originally published on October 15, 2019, and has since been updated.