Let’s take a quick trip back to your childhood and see if your parents ever said this:  

“You’re only as good as the company you keep.”

Like so many other pearls of wisdom your parents passed along to you (whether you asked for their advice or not) your parents were right! Our friends are a reflection of who we are. They are a window to what we believe in and a door to what matters to us most.  

The truth is, friendships at work matter just as much as they do in our personal lives.

Like a jewel at the bottom of the ocean, relationships are a treasure. TRUSTED relationships give us a wealth of knowledge when we need advice, a support network when we need a safety net. And just as important, business connections create in-roads and opportunities that lead toward success, a  key ingredient to job satisfaction.

If you are not a relationship person, you are narrowing the playing field and limiting your ability to succeed. So, ask yourself these two quick questions:

  1. Do I know anything about my co-workers, beyond what they do at work?
  2. Do I try to create connections in my industry (and beyond) that make me a valuable resource?

A “yes” answer to these questions is a good sign that you understand the value of relationships. A “no” answer means you need to adjust your compass because you are short changing yourself.

To begin building relationships, we have to reach out and connect with the people around us in an authentic, memorable way. This is especially true if we work from home where it’s easy to feel isolated.

In his ground breaking book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote: You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people to be interested in you.

Here are 10 Essential Relationship Building Blocks

  1. Make sure your daily To Do List includes engaging with at least 1 person you don’t know very well or reaching out to a client, just to re-connect.  
  2. Small talk is BIG talk
  3. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
  4. Listen with intention and put away your phone
  5. Ask questions like: “What can I do for you” or “If there is ever anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
  6. Strive to be a connector, a problem solver and a resource.  
  7. Attend networking events regularly. Do this because you will always learn something new…and/or meet someone new to add to your list of valuable connections.
  8. Follow-up if you said you would
  9. Never forget to return a favor
  10. Remember: when people are deciding who they want to work with, they want to work with their friends.  

Recently, I interviewed Megan Carroll, a former attorney and law professor, who is now a Relationship Manager for The Bullfinch Group in Boston. I asked Megan what she does to make connections part of her success story:

“I am a connector, so I take chances outside of my comfort zone. I have a genuine love and curiosity about meeting, introducing and helping people. If there is a person standing alone in a room, I make it a point to approach that person and introduce myself. Sometimes, these people become clients, but they also become friends or acquaintances who are the first to offer help when I need it. I’ve always prided myself on being a connector, but an epiphany occurred when an uber-connector here in Boston known as Jack Connors (former President & CEO of Hill, Holiday and Partners Healthcare) helped me when I was in a tough spot. He said: pay it forward and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

What’s amazing about Megan’s story is this: Jack Connors said the same thing to me 35 years ago and like Megan, I’ve kept my promise and have been passing it along ever since.

The moral of the story is: be a connector. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving.

Written by: Candy O’Terry

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