The Do’s and Don’ts of Developing Strategic Relationships to Advance Your Career

Navigating your career can be much easier when you have connections to help you develop your skills and learn along the way. A little ambition never hurt anybody, but there are some very clear dos and don’ts to take on board when developing strategic relationships in the business world. Below is a guide to help you on your way.

Do keep the relationships professional

Always keep the relationships professional even if you are meeting outside of business hours. One unfortunate misstep can ruin all the hard work you have put into developing the relationship. It can sometimes feel like a bit of a balancing act but if you mix it up with online communication and face-to-face meetings then the relationship should feel genuine and never forced. Never break confidence to further your own gain.

Don’t forget the other person’s needs

While you may need more from the relationship sometimes, it is important that you do a regular check-in to ensure that the other person is getting what they need from the partnership as well. It should never be one-sided all the time. Business is very personal, and it does not pay to overlook those mutually beneficial goals. If you have been offered assistance or direction, make sure you provide updates to let them know how you are getting on.

Do know when the relationship has come to fruition

There may come a time when you wish t switch careers or no longer need advice from someone and that’s okay too. You may find that the contacts in your current inner circle need to change to tally up with where you are right now. Good relationships need to be nurtured but, when there is nothing more to learn from each other, then your contact list may require an audit.

Don’t forget to listen

Be conscious that you aren’t eyeing the room and looking for the next person to chat to when you should be knee-deep in conversation with someone else. Stay in the present and give them the attention that they deserve. Never check emails or messages when chatting to someone as this sends a clear message that they are not important to you. Mindful listening is key to coming across as caring and trustworthy.

Do talk to strangers

Forget all you were taught and do reach out to the person that is standing alone or is unfamiliar to you. It’s always an interesting conversation when you are starting from scratch. You never know what you might have in common with them. It is good to practice your people skills and learn about others in an authentic way. Treat others how you want to be treated keeping it polite, warm, and welcoming.

Don’t just focus on the short-term

Consider both short-term and long-term goals when you are meeting others and making connections. Some people may be able to weigh in more today and others may play a larger role in a year or so down the road. Vary the contacts so you have a complementary team by your side and be prepared for whatever may come next. 

Do celebrate the wins of others

If you see that someone is successful in their goals, then make a special effort to reach out. Show genuine interest in their career and use it as a way of reconnecting or strengthening the relationship. Remember your relationship is not just for bragging rights or the bettering of others, but rather a tool to learn about yourself and a way to push everyone forward.

Don’t dwell on the negative

It is so easy to dwell on the negative or talk about the bad stuff but, quite honestly, you need to be better than that. Focus on building strong and positive connections and keep petty disputes at bay. Use the challenges in your career as something to overcome. You will soon see that positivity is an attractive quality as you watch your strategic relationships grow.

Do be the best you can be

Being good at your job is one thing but being exceptional is something else. If someone needs you, be there. Hold yourself accountable and get the job done. If and when you do make a mistake (yes, they do happen!) then accept the responsibility and move on. Prepare to be more competent and do better when it comes to meeting those deadlines and excelling at what you do.

Use these dos and don’ts as a stepping-off point and you will soon start to come across some of your very own to add to the list.

Do you have some advice you’d like to share? Please leave a comment and let’s chat.

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