Developing Your Career

How To Build a Relationship of Familiarity and Trust With Your Network

By Greg Simpson on June 15, 2012

“I need a job and I need it now! What can you do for me?”

As much as you really want to say this when networking, resist the temptation. Instead, approach networking as a true, mutually beneficial relationship.  Before reaching out to networking contacts, ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” and avoid focusing too much on what you want.

In a recent article, author Peter Weddle said, “A meaningful relationship – especially one that will largely or even entirely exist on the social networks – depends upon two critical factors: familiarity and trust. The people with whom you interact must feel as if they know you and that they can count on you to have their best interests at heart.”

While this is often more difficult to accomplish through email, Tweets, texts and posts, you still need to look for opportunities to trade information.  Here are some suggested approaches that add value and strengthen networking relationships:

  • Demonstrate that you’re thinking of your networking partners by sending them articles related to their careers, industries or hobbies.  Follow up with information on a topic you discussed.
  • Forward any job openings you may run across during your search or any insight you’ve gained about the search process itself.  Even partners who are currently employed are interested in the latest trends and strategies in job search.
  • Offer to introduce them to someone who could be helpful to them in their line of business or to contacts in professional organizations, suppliers or other resources.

Relationships are all about the give and take. It’s very rewarding to be able to give a little of ourselves, our time and our perspectives to help someone else. And it’s a bonus when we get something in return.


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