Chief Experience Officer with Livly, a PropTech Company whose mission is to create a better life for every resident and community manager.
Earlier this year, I wrote about how I took advantage of the pandemic lockdown and dismantled my work life in order to answer the question “What do I want?”.
After several months of reevaluating my priorities and defining how and with whom I’d spend my time and energy, I got back into the hectic world of business consultation. I’ve been inspired by how easily I was able to reconnect with folks I collaborated with in the past.
Careers in fundraising and business development are rife with rejection, and the support I have received has been overwhelmingly generous.
One thing has become clear to me: The pandemic has left us thirsty for authentic connection and real relationships. We’re eager to trade Zoom meetings for in-person coffee, dinner, drinks—anything that takes us out of our homes or cubicles and into the world of face-to-face (or masked face-to-face) interaction.
These networking opportunities to do business-like-we-used-to are exciting — we’re social creatures after all — and creating new connections that enhance the client/customer experience with meaningful relationships is invaluable.
But like well-constructed buildings, these relationships need strong foundations and solid structures to maintain their integrity. Cultivating relationships for the long haul takes honest, consistent dedication and a desire to help others on their career paths.
Here are some steps to make that happen:
Being authentic has become an overused buzzword. But to me, authenticity is the truest form of rebellion. It takes a brave person to show themselves. People sense honesty. With it comes a vulnerability that attracts each of us to share ourselves in interesting ways that matter.
Consistency is the most important trait in building trust.
There’s research that shows consistency is a cornerstone to building trust in almost any type of relationship, from business to personal.
What does that mean? We trust those who do what they say they will do, who walk their talk, so to speak. When we honor commitments, and show up for others regularly in a way they count on, we build deep-seated trust. Consistency means knowing you can expect close to the same type of behavior, support, and interaction from another person, and vice versa, that over time fosters a strong, bonded trust.
Listen, relate, and find ways to help.
Maxims like “listen twice as much as you speak” or “we teach best what we want to learn most” are time-worn because they hold ingrained truths.
Think of an experience in which someone brought value to your business, offered a wise perspective on an idea, or gave you good advice. They had to listen deeply and find common ground to connect.
Paying that kind of deep care and attention forward in the world of networking builds goodwill and positive forward momentum. I’ve gotten a lifetime’s worth of insight from my mentors over the years that I’m now focused on sharing with others.
Your bravest strategy is letting go of the outcome.
Engaging with others will never work in your favor if your sole purpose is to get something out of it without giving back. Real relationships are based on genuine give and take.
I choose to talk to everyone I encounter with an authentic desire to add value, in whatever form that may take. If I can elevate someone’s experience, offer a different perspective or enhance quality of life, then I am a success. Chances are you will not be forgotten for your bold generosity.
Keep a list.
One last word of practical advice. If you’ve consistently kept a list of contacts throughout your career, it can be difficult to recall who you met and where (and if you don’t already do this, start now).
At the suggestion of one of my mentors, I created a personal CRM, and I meta tag everyone based on their industry when I meet someone new. This way, when someone asks me for a referral, I can easily pull up a few contacts for them and pay it forward.