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The Art of Building Relationships You Need to Succeed in Your Career

The Art of Building Relationships You Need to Succeed in Your Career

The power of building relationships cannot be overstated. While the concept “building relationships” sounds like a fancy business buzzword, there’s really a lot of substance behind it.

Many people do fine going about their business keeping their head down. Sometimes they poke their head out from their cubicle like a prairie dog when there’s free cake to be had but other than that, they do their own thing. They only worry about interacting with the people that they need to on a day to day basis.

Unfortunately, these people are shortchanging their own career. In this article, we will look at the art of building relationships you need to succeed in your career.

Remember, you are the CEO of your own career. How far you go towards achieving the goals you want for yourself in your career is squarely on your shoulders. Utilize the art of building relationships to help power success in your career.

Let’s take a look at why building relationships is so important to your career and how to go about doing it.

How Building Relationships Helps Your Career

Building relationships is often cited as one of the key drivers for building a successful career. It is absolutely mission critical. Building relationships helps your career in so many ways. When you make an effort to build relationships with your clients, it shows that you actually care about them as customers.

Creating positive and supportive relationships with your fellow coworkers will help you perform your job better. When they see that you are an important member of the team, they will want to work with you and come to look forward to interacting with you.

As you develop meaningful dialogue with your boss and deepen the relationship, he or she will see that they can trust you. They see you as someone who does what they say they are going to do and that builds trust. Building the trust and relationship with your boss can help you immensely in your career.

As we will see in this article shortly, there are some key people you should build relationships outside of work that can be hugely beneficial to you as well. Everywhere you look, you will see the value of creating strong relationships to propel your career.

Who to Build Relationships With

Ideally, you want to build relationships both inside and outside your company. I realize this might sound a bit strange, so let me explain:

The people inside your company can really help with the day to day aspects of your job and career. These include your boss or bosses, your fellow coworkers, and I’m going to include vendors you might work with.

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Outside of your company, there are other groups of people you should work to build great relationships with. These include your customers, mentors, and key folks in your industry.

Let’s take a deeper look at these groups:

Internally At Work

Your Boss

This should immediate pop into your mind. It is super important to build a good relationship with your boss or bosses.

Many people have one boss. I’ve worked in several organizations where I really had numerous bosses I had to develop relationships with. In any event, this is a critical relationship to build.

Make sure you have ongoing, open communication with your boss. Stay clear on your objectives and priorities. Know what areas create the biggest impact for your supervisor (and therefore you).

Be aligned on strategic initiatives and how you can help shape and influence that whenever possible. This all becomes possible when you and your boss(es) are on the same page through a good working relationship.

Your Associates

This is pretty much a no brainer as well. You can most likely see the benefit of solid working relationships with those people you interact with at work on a regular basis.

It’s a wonderful thing to know someone you work with has your back and you have theirs as you navigate your career and work product. These is a direct result of creating and building great relationships with your associates.

Keep open dialogue and a create a sense of teamwork and fun whenever possible.

Your Customers

This could really be included in either in or out of work. Some of us work with internal customers, some of us with external customers.

If you are client facing, then you have to be able to build trustful, advisor-like relationships with them. You want them to see you as a great resource in whatever capacity they are paying you or your company. That is your value to them. This comes from creating those trusting and meaningful relationships.

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If your customers are inside your company, it’s super important to create great working relationships with them as well. Being in recruiting I have internal customers (hiring managers) and external customers (candidates).

Outside Of Work

Mentors

You can have mentors both inside and outside of work. Best case scenario is to have mentors at both.

I like to stay in touch with my favorite bosses of all time. I continue to get advice and direction from them from time to time. They are from previous jobs so they are really outside of my day to day work.

I also have several mentors who do similar work to what I do, but are more senior and therefore more experienced and have some great wisdom. It takes work to maintain these relationships but it is well worth it.

Key Industry Folks

I work in recruiting. There are people at other companies who oversee huge recruiting machines. I like to have strong relationships with some of these folks that I get along well with. That way we are able to offer up advice to each other from time to time. If I am facing a new challenge, I can pick up the phone and call for some input.

There are also some people I’ve developed relationships with over the years who have expertise in a specific area. They are awesome when I need some advice in their area of expertise. Conversely, I can help them from time to time with my expertise.

Vendor Partners

Not all of us work with vendors in our day to day job responsibilities. If you do, it’s well worth building strong relationships with your most important vendor partners.

Not all vendors are great. The ones that are truly invested in helping your company succeed are worth the time to create meaningful relationships with.

In one fashion or another, we are all a vendor to someone. We all have customers. Recognize who helps you succeed with your customers and treat them accordingly.

The Art of Building Relationships

Building relationships is part science and part art. To be an effective relationship builder, you’ve got to genuinely be interested in others. Here are some strategies that can help you build relationships to help you in your career.

We’ve looked at the key groups of people that you should build relationships with. Now let’s take a look at some specific relationship building strategies and ideas.

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1. Be Appreciative

One of the foundations of building relationships is being appreciative of everyone you partner with at work. This includes your clients, your boss or bosses, and your fellow coworkers.

Take the time to say thank and be genuinely appreciative of what they have done for you. It might be in the form of incoming revenue from a client, or could be the tips and guidance your boss provides to you. It might be the report or presentation your fellow associate helped you with that helped you land the new client.

Always be appreciative of how others interact with and help you during the course of business.

2. Spend Your Time Wisely

It’s not uncommon for me to try to run in too many differing directions. When I do this, I am not very effective at any of them. When I focus on the most important items, I am much more effective.

This is suggested with relationships as well. Identify the most meaningful relationships you should create and maintain for both your career and others.

Remember, this isn’t a one-sided deal. You have to be a person that someone wants to invest time in to create a solid relationship. Speaking of which…

3. Give as Much as You Get

This is really true in all relationships and it certainly applies here. You have to be able to provide equal value in the relationship.

Maybe you’re a mentor to someone. To your boss, you provide a great work product and that’s some very good value for your boss. You provide insight and value to your clients and customers — whether they are internal or external.

Make sure you take the time and spend the energy to give as much as you get, if not more.

4. Be Social

Work relationships don’t just get created and developed at work. Many times, this happens outside of the building you work in. It can happen over lunch, coffee, and adult beverage, at the gym, and many other places.

Take the time to invite key folks you want to build relationships to lunch or coffee or whatever works. You don’t always have to talk about work topics. Some of the best working relationships get the foundation built outside of the office without talking about work stuff at all.

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5. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s one thing to ask a coworker to lunch to start building a relationship. It’s quite another to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never met because you think they could be a key relationship.

Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and develop some relationships with people you don’t know.

I have reached out to quite a few people that recruit for the same kind of people in the same industry as me but work at competitors. Unsurprisingly, most of them have ignored me. With several that haven’t ignored me, we’ve built meaningful, referral type relationships.

6. Help Others Succeed

There is probably no better way at building relationships you need to succeed in your career than helping others succeed. This one thing is so powerful it will win you instant relationships. Think about the last time someone you worked with went out of their way to help you in a critical work moment.

I’ve recently joined a new company. I am working on recruiting someone who I believe will be a huge success at the company I am now at. The person that runs the Western half of the US offered to help me. His exact email words were “Let me know if there is anything I can do. I’m more than happy to do what I can to help land this individual”. You can bet he made an instant fan in me.

Conclusion

The ability to build relationships has the power to help you incredibly in your career. There is no one magic technique that creates these partnerships but rather a variety of methods and approaches.

Through the course of this article, we’ve looked at the art of building relationship you need to succeed in your career. Take what works for you and apply it liberally to give your career a significant lift.

Remember, the success you achieve in your career is entirely up to you. When you put the time and energy into building strong work related relationships, you give yourself a huge career boost.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Published on April 22, 2020

How to Use the Law of Reciprocity for Effective Persuasion

How to Use the Law of Reciprocity for Effective Persuasion

Can you think of a time when someone did something nice to you for no apparent reason?

It may seem like this happens rarely. And maybe that is why when it does, it really stands out. When someone does something to help us in some way, we feel grateful. And when we feel grateful, we also feel like we want to do something for the other person.

What you are feeling in these situations is the law of reciprocity. This feeling that we get from wanting to help others or give them something can be a useful tool to help you achieve a goal.

Here are some ways you can use the law of reciprocity for effective persuasion.

What is the Principle of Reciprocity?

The principle of reciprocity is a term in social psychology. To put it simply, it means that if someone does something nice for you, you have the built-in tendency to want to do something nice for them.

This is apparent in almost all social situations: personal relationships, in business, familial relationships, and just about every interaction with other people.

Here is one example.

Most years, my wife and I send out holiday cards. I always ask my wife why we send them to certain people.

I always ask my wife, “why are we sending a holiday card to the Smiths?”. And she always answers, “because they send us one”, even though we have not seen them or spoken to them for over 10 years.

We feel obligated to send the Smith family a card because they send us one. They did something for us, we should do something for them.

According to Linda and Charlie Bloom from Psychology Today:

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The rule of reciprocation “has to do with the universal tendency in human beings to feel compelled to repay or reciprocate when given a gift whether it has come in the form of a material object, a kind deed, or an act of generosity. There is a strong impulse in people from all cultures to repay gifts or favors with a gift of our own to them. This impulse expresses itself in reciprocation to invitations to parties, Christmas cards, birthday presents, or acts of kindness.”[1]

Law of Reciprocity and Business

Think of the companies you do business with. This can be your job working with your vendors or partners or other businesses. It can also be the companies you do business with on a personal level – the grocery store, coffee shop, dry cleaners, etc.

In almost all cases, we work with businesses that we trust.

I mean, would you work with a company you do not trust? I know I would not.

This is exactly where the law of reciprocity comes into effect.

Build Trust

When a company is still small and looking to gain more customers, they usually give away something for free to grow their business. These could be pieces of advice or services, but most of the time these are products.

This is very evident in the software industry. The reason is simple: people see new cool software, and they want to try it out before they buy it. Getting to try it for free for 2 weeks lets them check it out, play with it, and hopefully fall in love with it.

This is why you will usually see between 40% – 60% of free trails get converted to paid subscriptions. The company shows that you should trust them and their product by providing you with a new product to try out for a while.

Show Appreciation

Now that the trust has been built, well-run businesses will show ongoing appreciation for your patronage. Again, this is the law of reciprocity coming into effect.

In a study done by the U.S. Small Business Administration, almost 68% of customers will end a business relationship if they do not feel appreciated. Compare this to the 14% who leave a company because of a poor product.[2]

When a company shows appreciation, customers feel like the company cares about them. This is why we love it when the companies give us “special discounts” for being their loyal customers.

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Incentivize Customers

This is where the referral programs come in.

How many companies do you know that will give you a $50 or $100 credit when you refer a new customer to them?

Exactly.

These kinds of programs are incredibly popular. You are doing something for the company, therefore they will do something for you. You know if you refer someone who signs up for the companies services, then the company will reward you financially. It is a great win-win situation.

How to Use the Law of Reciprocity for Effective Persuasion

Now that we know what the law of reciprocity is and how it is used in business, let us look at how we can use it for effective persuasion.

Remember, persuasion means convincing someone to do something for us.

This is not as terrible as it sounds; it is not like we are playing an elaborate game trying to be master puppeteers with other people. We all try to persuade others for things from time to time because it is human nature.

Just recently, I persuaded my boss into letting me go to a conference I wanted. The way I achieved this was by stepping up and completing a big project. I then asked about going to the conference while explaining how attending this conference will make me even better at my job. See how that worked?

Here are a few ideas for using the law of reciprocity for effective persuasion.

1. Give Something First

Being the first person to give something to someone else puts you in a position of power. It is like doing someone a favor before they ask for it. It then becomes the unwritten and unspoken rule that they “owe you”.

It does not happen as often these days, but this is the exact reason why I am the first of my friends to buy a round at a bar when we go out. You always remember who bought the first round but rarely who bought the 3rd one.

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This worked well in my example above with my boss and the conference. I gave my boss something first – a lot of assistance on a big project. My boss did not ask for my help; I volunteered it. Then a month or so after the project was complete, I asked about going to the conference.

Nothing was spoken about the extra work I did on the project, but I implied it when I stated how going to the conference would help complete similar projects more effectively down the road.

Give something first.

2. Give Something That Truly Benefits Someone

Your offer of assistance has to actually benefit the other party. If it does not, there is a chance it will feel like you are just trying to manipulate people.

Ensure that you are giving something that will help someone in a manner that comes across as no strings attached. If someone can further benefit from your product, advice or service, then you have given them a taste of what you can do.

If you have ever received an invitation in the mail for a nice steak dinner hosted by a financial advisor, you are receiving 2 things – a great meal and some financial advice.

Just about all of us can use some sound financial advice and appreciate a nice meal. Once the presentation ends and your meal starts to settle, you may start to think about how this financial advisor can help you.

This person has given you something valuable for free, now you feel somewhat obligated to do business with him or her.

3. Make It Personal

A gift coming from a personal place makes the gesture more effective than coming from a faceless corporation. This is why we see real-life stories attached to big businesses so much. Companies take themselves to a personal level we can relate to.

We relate to other human beings, not gigantic companies.

I have personally received customized return address labels from the Humane Society on numerous occasions. When I am done marveling at how nice they are, I almost always write them a donation check. They make those address labels from those cute and cuddly puppies and kittens, making it immensely personal and heart-warming.

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4. Keep the Giving Going

Now that you have given something of value to another person in a meaningful way, you will want to keep it going.

Do not just give something then walk away when you get what you want. To keep the good vibes going and continuously build goodwill, it is important to keep giving valuable things to people.

You can also change it up so it is not the same thing over and over. But the point is to continue to provide something that someone else can use.

As an example, I have been a recruiter for 15 years. Over the years, I have spoken to many people who have been laid off or downsized for one reason or another.

Many of these people have not looked for a job in a decade or longer, so they tend to flounder. Even if the skills and experience they possess are not fit for a position I am recruiting for, I am always happy to talk to them if they want to. The reason being is that I can leverage my years of recruiting experience to help them in their job search.

Talk to them about tips and ways to be more effective and get more interviews. I am not getting anything out of it, but I do it because I am knowledgeable in job searching, and my advice is helpful to people looking for a job.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the law of reciprocity can be extremely helpful for effective persuasion. It is an effective way for good companies to do business, and it is something that you and I can use in our everyday lives. It is something that can help us in our relationships and most certainly in our careers.

When you can be the first to do something nice for someone else, it can help you persuade that person to assist you in some manner that you want. It is not about getting someone to do something they would not normally do.

What you are doing is providing something beneficial to another person so when the time is right, they may provide something beneficial back to you.

It is a circle of giving where we all help each other out.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Liverani via unsplash.com

Reference

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