No More Networking… Let’s Build Real Relationships!

Build relationshipsMost everyone agrees: it’s important to connect with other people which allows us to:

  • Make new friends
  • Discover more opportunities
  • Develop business relationships
  • Become more successful
  • Learn more about ourselves and our lives

Typically, however (and I’ve been guilty of this myself) the approach most people take is horrible. We go into every interaction with the intention of seeing what they can get out of someone else. This approach makes the connections soulless. There is no real “human” touch.

Here’s the secret: People are more inclined to help someone when they’re truly connected to them.

The focus should be on having real connections. I often go to events where people are trying to network, seeing how many people they can talk to and how many business cards they can fill their pockets with. However, after I’m done talking with people, it’s amazing how many leave from our talk saying, “it was good to actually have a real conversation with you!”

When you can engage deeply with someone it’s more meaningful. That’s not something an event can do, but something you can do.

To engage with others more deeply allows for relationships to evolve and become stronger, rather than a one-off moment like they’ve been used.

How Can You Build Authentic Relationships?

Here are some quick tips:

Building authentic relationships goes beyond just a single interaction, though. Networks are not just a numbers game of connecting with as many people as possible. After all, that’s what makes it feel like a chore for so many.

If you would like to connect with someone, cultivate and build a relationship. Otherwise, people can tell exactly why you’re reaching out: to use them. That doesn’t work and that’s not how you build a network of reliable and meaningful connections.

I always seem to meet with people who show me their 500+ connections on LinkedIn. But when I show them how to use LinkedIn and how they can use their connections to get that job they want, I say “you just need to contact Andrea to introduce you to Kevin who works within the company you’re applying to.” But if they don’t know Andrea, all I can think of is “why the hell are you connected with her if you can’t, or don’t, utilize that connection?!”

How Can You Leverage Social Media… And Stay Authentic?

Maybe you are among those who feel social media is where “real” relationships go to die? Here’s how you can leverage the power of social media and build relationships that matter:

  • If there are people you look up to or whose work you are interested in, connect with them online and through related events.
  • Find a common interest, you’re going to have some common ground items you can speak with them on. If you’re interested in them, chances are you have similar interests!
  • Ask them questions and share your thoughts on their work.
  • Take the conversation past digital – pick up the phone, initiate a Skype call or buy a cup of coffee!

So when it’s time for you to help others or get a job, you need to have reliable people as your connections. Reaching out to someone who is nothing more than part of your goal to reach 1,000 “friends” or “followers” – nor the business cards you’ve worked so hard to collect –  is not going to help.

If they don’t know you, and trust you… they can’t help you!

Stop networking. Start building relationships. Because it’s not the Twitter chats, events, meetings, or conferences you attend that make you successful… it’s the people you meet and the personal relationships built that really matter.


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James WightmanAbout the Author: James Wightman served as a chief editor for the #1 Amazon Bestseller – The Suitcase Entrepreneur and is also the first person in the world to present a TEDx Talk through Google Glass. You can discover more of James’ leading-edge work on how to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life at Follow James on Twitter!



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