Relationships make or break every aspect of our lives. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve found the perfect loft, or landed the perfect client, because of a relationship I’ve grown diligently.
Unfortunately, because of social media, the time we invest each other has dropped down to a few seconds per week, if even that. Many lose patience if there isn’t a response immediately after a read receipt is posted.
However, if you’re willing to make a few small changes in your routine, you can build authentic relationships without really trying. You don’t have to do all 5 of these things. Pick your favorite and see where it takes you. I guarantee people will appreciate the effort.
Here are 5 ways to network and build authentic relationships:
Don’t obsess over one aspect of your life
Different people serve different roles in our life. There are your blog friends, the ones who blog too and understand what it’s like juggling a website with life.
There are your side-hustle friends, the ones who have chosen, like you, to take on clients and now have client drama in addition to full-time work drama. There are your gossipy friends, the ones who are in your life just to dish about the latest Wendy Williams, or RHOA foolishness.
Everyone has value. Please, in your effort to build a side-hustle, or to grow your network, dismiss someone who can provide value elsewhere. You never know when an episode of RHOA could lead to a brilliant new blog post, or product.
Be willing to check-in regularly
This is a big one. Thanks to social media, it’s easy to assume a RT, or like, is the equivalent of daily communication. However, the best relationships are built on authentic, out-of-the-way check-ins.
Set aside some time daily to text someone you haven’t spoken to in a week. Or, pick up the phone and call that person you haven’t seen at work lately.
Because we live in a fast-paced society, it’s so easy to lose track of people. We all have good intentions when we take that business card, but often things get in the way, and we forget. Or, often we see a post on Facebook and we intend to follow up but life gets in the way.
Don’t let people forget you.
Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Typically, when people say, “Step out of your comfort zone,” they’re really looking at the Introverts and implying “be more extroverted.”
This advice isn’t meant to be read that way.
When building relationships, the best meaning of leaving your comfort zone is to take the next step toward whatever makes you the most nervous, and the most uncomfortable.
This could mean adding a new contact on Facebook. Or, sending a DM to your Twitter fave. It could even mean taking a new coworker out to coffee. Do whatever is one step past what’s comfortable for you. Taking that extra step often breaks down barriers and allows people to open up.
Give before you take
You’ve probably heard this (or something similar) a lot lately: “give before you ask, and then give some more.” It’s some of the most popular marketing advice out there, and it holds a lot of weight.
The number one way to prove you’re trustworthy is to give your best away.
By doing this, with an honest heart, you are showing that you’re not in a relationship to compete, or in it for yourself. You’re saying, “Hey you’re worth my time so much that I’ll prove it to you by giving you my best.”
I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve made a new business connection because I helped them solve a problem via Twitter and all it took was maybe 10 minutes of my time. Please don’t let the scarcity mindset have you out here afraid of giving your best away. What you give out, you will get back, and sometimes multiplied.
Limit your self-importance
There is nothing like a braggart to ruin a good conversation. You know that person. The one who always has a story similar to yours, but better. Or the one who has done what you’ve done, but gotten the award.
Self-important is the number one way to kill relationships before they even begin.I know you’re awesome. But in the spirit of giving before you take, ask more questions that you answer. Listen more than you speak
Show people you are truly in this to build relationships. You’ve got this.
What tips wold you give for someone trying to get better at networking?
Brittany Melton is a logo and web designer of 11 years. She has worked corporately for brands such as BMW, the University of Alabama, and Target. She has been featured in Quirktastic, Search Engine Journal, and Madame Noir, just to name a few. Brittany launched her first successful business on Etsy in 2012. After hitting a few hundred sales and being featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, she used her design skills from the corporate world to venture out on her own. Ever since then, she's been working full-time as a freelance designer helping new creatives launch their brands and businesses. Twitter: @xobritdear Instagram: @xobritdear