In a conversation about career advancement strategies, former Maryland Adjutant General Linda Singh shared three important points about effective networking that every public sector employee needs to hear.
Point #1: Strategic Networking With Difficult PeopleWhen I asked Linda how she builds relationships with difficult people, she shared an interesting point. First, if the relationship is being developed to accomplish a specific goal, she reminds herself that she doesn’t need to like the person to work with them. This is an important point. Too many people believe that liking someone is a prerequisite to building an effective relationship.
I don’t like you, and you don’t like me. Great!
Even though liking the person you’re in a relationship with may be nice, it is far from required. Relationships can be built on foundations such as a mutual respect, a common goal, or even a common enemy. Singh recommended investing the time necessary to find commonality when working with difficult people.
One of the most effective networking strategies I use when working with difficult people is to find something I value or respect about that person. I can respect their position, their level of influence, their life experiences, or their expertise. I can also value their thought process, the skills they bring to the table, or the passion they exude when they stand their ground. The truth is, every person brings something of value to the table despite their likability. But if you can’t find anything you value in that person, I encourage you to engage in some self-introspection, asking yourself why you are not able to find value or something positive in the person you seek to develop relationships.
Point #2: How to Choose the Right ContactsYou will interact with hundreds of people every year. However, unless you are a fortune teller, you have no way of knowing who can or will help you reach your career and personal development goals. Maybe it’s the executive that seems to receive a new award every other week on LinkedIn, the entry level employee who nervously reached out to you for career advice, or anyone else in-between. So, what do you do to find out who is the one? How do you know which person will have a profound impact on your life? How do you choose the right person so you can pour your valuable and limited time and energy into them?
Linda’s recommendation is simple. Be respectful, kind, helpful, and above all, present in every interaction. The person you’re speaking with may or may not be the one to change your life, but taking this approach will build your reputation as someone who values everyone regardless of their status. In addition, more people will want to meet you and help you reach your personal and professional development goals. And, do you know who likes to be valued? Everyone. If this sounds too sentimental, just remember that world renowned experts on relationship building (such as Adam Grant and Rob Brown) have conducted extensive research on the topic and have found that it works. But there’s a critical caveat. Although you should be respectful and present during every interaction, all interactions are not created equal. Click here to learn how and why you must prioritize the people and interactions in your life if you want to reach your career goals.