The Power of Relationship Building: Networking vs. Connecting

It's not just about who you know, but how well you know them - use these tips to create stronger, more meaningful connections in your network.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Networking often gets a bad name. It’s seen as transactional, with people who are only looking for help and then never reaching out again. But networking isn’t about short-term self-focused connections. Networking is about creating long-term, mutually beneficial business relationships.

These relationships can offer support, opportunities, and insights throughout your career. By creating a more meaningful network, you can develop a valuable advantage to help you achieve your professional goals. Use these tips to create genuine connections and maintain them over time, and you'll see the benefits of a more effective network.

Why you should build a more meaningful network

Say your company has a job opening, and your best friend reaches out asking for a referral, but so does someone you met at a networking event. You’re probably more likely to offer your friend help. 

What about making an introduction? If you meet someone in an important position in a field your friend hopes to break into, you probably think of them immediately. You may have even brought their name up and made an introduction. Unfortunately, the same likely isn’t true for many of the business contacts in your address book

While networking connections aren’t always going to become your best friend, having a connection that goes past the surface can be highly beneficial when you need help.

Closer relationships mean a willingness to offer more support, keeps you on their mind more often, and open communication to learn more from each other. 

How to build a better network
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

How to create a meaningful network 

1. Focus on tone and body language 

Whether we realize it or not, body language can significantly impact a conversation. For example, if you’re nervous, disinterested, or bored, that can come across in your body language and could lead to a lost connection. 

Spoken words only account for 7% of our attention. Body language and tone of voice account for more than 90% of our attention in a conversation. 

When networking, focus on appearing warm and friendly. Smile, make eye contact, and focus on open body language by keeping arms uncrossed, facing them, and standing up straight. 

2. Master the introduction

While we may not want to judge a book by its cover, often, the first impression can change the entire trajectory of a conversation or relationship. Learn how to start a conversation that leads somewhere. 

Whether with a few self-introduction tips or a complete elevator pitch, create an approach that works for you. 

Master the introduction
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

3. Remember important details

Most of the world exists in a constant state of information, and remembering the little details isn’t always possible. But to build a meaningful connection, it's essential to remember key details about the people you meet. 

Remembering their dog's name or favorite food may seem small and insignificant, but to them, it shows you care to get to know them and value them. 

Remembering those details is easier said than done, though. To keep track of everything, use the notes feature in your contact manager, so everything you need to know is organized along with their contact information. 

Take notes to remember important details

4. Get to know them better

Building a meaningful relationship takes time, effort, and a genuine interest in the other person. Take the time to get to know your connections better by asking thoughtful questions about their work, interests, and goals. Look for commonalities, and consider ways you could collaborate or support each other in the future.

5. Maintain the relationship

Networking isn't a one-time event; it's an ongoing process of building and maintaining relationships. Keep in touch with your connections by sending follow-up emails, sharing relevant news or articles, and scheduling occasional check-ins or coffee meetings. Show your interest in their success and keep the lines of communication open.

If you just met them, make sure you exchange business cards so you have a way to stay in touch. 

Ready for more networking tips? Learn how to make the best business card, how to ask connections for help, and more on the HiHello blog

Main photo by Jakob Dalbjörn on Unsplash

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