“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go with others. — African Proverb
I’m less than 50 days away from graduating from Morehouse. A lot of my anxiety that I was experiencing has subsided. Currently, I’m applying for jobs, grad schools and crafting up my master plan to take over the world. As I send in applications and curate letters of recommendation, it’s been easy to do so. Most of the jobs I’ve applied for I know a recruiter who works at the company that can leverage my application. I also haven’t had a hard time finding individuals to write my letters of recommendation. I can say with confidence that my transition into the “real world” will be smooth because of my connections and relationships.
Relationships are so important to maintain for success. In my book, Dealing With This Thing Called Life, I talk about the importance of collaboration. Helen Keller said it best, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Often we think that if we are talented or gifted that we can achieve success alone, but that’s not the truth. Any level of success that is of value takes collaboration through healthy professional relationships.
The real question is, how does one go about creating healthy professional relationships.
Here are five tips to assist in making this happen.
The only way to cultivate a relationship is through time and communication. There have been so many instances where I have had a phenomenal conversation with a young professional but never follow up with them. Even though our initial interaction may be good, if I don’t make an effort to maintain the relationship it will fall flat. Anytime you meet someone who may be able to assist with your career:
- Contact them the next day
- Remind them of the interaction you shared
- In the future contact them every month or two to keep the relationship healthy
Everyone has something they are skilled at doing. For every skill there is, there’s a need for it as well. I’ve met so many people simply because I write, I’m good at reviewing resumes or because I’m wickedly good looking. Whatever your skill or talent is, utilize it and make it known. When you can add value to someone’s network, it makes it easier to create a healthy professional relationship.
Watch Your Body Language
A study at UCLA showed that only 7% of communication is based on actual words. For the rest, 38% comes from tone of voice, and the remaining 55% comes from body language. A key to becoming a master networker is to learn how to be conscious of the 55% of your communication. Something to consider when you have the opportunity to meet someone in person is to practice precise body language.
- Try to smile
- Never fold your arms
- Stand tall and firm
Think people, not positions.
A common mistake that many of us make is that we feel we need to build a connection with the most powerful person in the room. When at networking events connect to people for who they are and not what they do.
We never know who the next Bill Gates will be. It’s a lot easier to connect with people at the beginning of their career than at the pinnacle. We all have people in our lives that are insanely innovative, perfectly punctual and terrifically talented. Make it a point to network with these individuals. It should go without saying that if they are the hard workers of today, they will probably be the game changers of tomorrow. Even if they don’t become an influencer, it’ll be an interesting relationship. Stay woke.
You may not be the smartest person in the room or the most talented but who cares. At the end of the day, people love a genuine smile and pleasant conversation. Do your best to remember people’s names, have a real interest in what they’re saying and do not forget to smile. Good vibes go a long way. I’ve been in spaces where I was the worst dressed or least qualified. I always tell myself, some may dress better than me, or talk with more eloquence but no one will ever beat me in making someone feel good.
Networking is a skill that everyone who dreams of being successful should possess. It may be intimidating at first, but the reward is greater than the risk. Next time you hit a networking event I hope these tips come to mind and you knock it out of the park.