How to Build Relationships at Work (And Maintain Them)
Networking is important!
For better or worse, it can sometimes be more important than the actual work you deliver, at least when it comes to growing your career. The challenge remains – healthy professional relationships don’t emerge overnight – they take time to develop and maintain. Luckily, you can build relationships at work and expand your network within the flow of the normal workday.
Why is building relationships at work so important?
Work is most enjoyable when we’re surrounded by people we get along with. According to Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs,” feeling connected to our peers falls squarely in the category of “love and belonging.” This speaks to the fundamental importance of developing positive relationships at work. But building strong connections isn’t just important about making us feel happy inside the office walls. Strong connections offer us a host of other career-related benefits, too. Consider the following:
- Developing meaningful relationships with co-workers will allow you to receive honest feedback, potentially making your daily workflow much smoother.
- From the field of sociology, we know that highly successful people tend to have an abundance of “weak ties.” In other words, friendly, professional relationships that may benefit them at some point in the future. LinkedIn was the first to capitalize on this in the digital era. As luck would have it, one of the best ways to develop a rich network of weak ties is to actively build and maintain relationships with colleagues at each phase of your career.
- From an employer’s perspective, healthy relationships build trust, which leads to mutual accountability, which leads to productivity. A business owner’s dream come true!
How do I build positive work relationships?
It’s not realistic to think you’ll become best buddies with all of your colleagues, even if your team is small. But there are plenty of interpersonal tips to keep in mind that will help you become more connected to your colleagues.
- First, share who you really are. Keep it professional, but don’t be afraid to show a healthy amount of vulnerability. It’s much easier to connect with an honest person than someone attempting to portray a false image of who they really are.
- Second, in appropriate situations, share your values and goals. Start with small stuff and move onto bigger conversations as you gain comfort around the workplace – simultaneously gauging other’s level of comfort.
- Third, always show respect. No matter how comfortable you get with your co-workers, being considerate of their space, time, and work should always be at the top of your list. Mutual respect will make your relationship grow.
How do I maintain lasting professional relationships?
We all lead busy lives. Take a quick glance back at meaningful relationships from the past, and you’ll probably realize how easy it is to fall out of touch. The question is, how do you achieve the right balance of professional communication? Communication that is respectful and doesn’t overdo it, but also ensures you aren’t forgotten? The key is focusing on relationships that both parties can benefit from, by way of respectful interaction.
- If you haven’t already, make sure to get connected on LinkedIn, occasionally liking or commenting on your followers’ posts. This is a great, simple reminder that you are interested in what they have to say. Likewise, don’t be afraid to send a simple ” how have you been‚” message every once in a while. Show interest in their career and offer support.
- For closer contacts, consider a phone call or friendly email every once in a blue moon, just to say hello and keep in touch. You might share an article link you think your contact might find interesting, reference an inside joke, or ask about your co-worker’s family.
Whether it’s via LinkedIn or other methods, maintaining professional relationships will expand your circle over time, and can be an important step in climbing the ranks.
When thinking about building relationships at work, keep the following in mind – it might seem like a big commitment over the long haul, but if you learn to integrate these strategies into your weekly routine, your network will expand naturally.
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