I’ve worked in technology for the better half of my professional life. Whether it was customer service in retail technology or IT support via email and live chat, there has been one statement in every experience that continues to ring true: it’s about who you know.
Communication is an essential part of most if not all career fields, as we need to work with one another to accomplish one main goal we’re all working towards. Even if the work looks different across departments, having the skills to communicate effectively and network with people around you is vital for success.
That said, how do you make those connections in the first place? Equally as important, how do you continue to nourish those connections once you’ve made them? I’ve learned from my mentors and colleagues throughout my career so far, that the company we keep within our professional (as well as personal) lives is a major key to excelling and growing in your career.
Here are 4 essential tips I’ve learned from those around me that have mastered the art of making connections.
1. Establish yourself as a giver of value
Think about your strengths. Think about your opportunities. Now think of someone who does not possess your strengths, and think of someone who has already met the goals you currently have set for yourself professionally. Remember that everyone can help someone, so it’s important to think about what you have to offer, equally as what you can learn. Relationships are built on mutual enrichment. When was the last time someone made you feel empowered? You can do the same for someone else. This will help you to evolve as well. Always know what you bring to the table. Always know and own your value proposition.
2. Specifically define your personal & professional goals
We all possess so much power and strength, yet vulnerability and the willingness to continue learning is what makes us human. Most of us have goals for where we want to be in 1, 5, maybe even 10 years down the road. One of the key pieces of advice I’ve been given by successful leaders in my life has been about setting yourself up for success. We do this by being intentional and specifically defining these goals for ourselves. Connect and engage with other established givers of value — these are people who’ve already achieved your goals. Ask specific, thoughtful questions and put yourself out there. Offer & highlight your value proposal (without selling something).
3. Quality over quantity
One of my professional mentors told me that it’s better to have a small social circle because this indicates quality over quantity. I have found this not only true in my personal life, but in my professional career as well. Being intentional about my goals has allowed me to seek out specific individuals and while I’ve built a small social circle with important people, it has been much easier for me personally to enrich these relationships in a much more manageable and realistic way. My relationships tend to mean more when I can give time and energy to a smaller group of people. It’s crucial to move on from stagnant and zero-sum relationships that take more out of you than they give. Take the time to make space for positive-sum relationships. These are the people who lift others as they arise. People with a positive-sum mentality know individual achievement is an indication of success for everyone in a community. Celebrate big and small wins and seek for opportunities to grow together and overcome areas of challenge. Find these individuals and keep them in your circle.
4. The best way to get where you want to be in life is to hang out with people who are already there
This step may sound a bit redundant, but it’s needed in order to highlight its importance of it. Befriend people who have a habit of making their dreams come true! These people don’t make excuses and they take responsibility and ownership of their lives. The people you surround yourself with will make a big impact on your life. You’ll be inclined to grow in the same direction as them, too.
Personal and professional growth happens because of optimizing your peer and friend group. When you build up your social circle and connect with others intentionally, you level up your career and overall, your life.