When you think of relationships, what probably comes to mind are your family and friends. Maybe for some it’s your co-workers and acquaintances. These tend to be the people you have a relationship with because of proximity. But what about your strategic relationships?
A strategic relationship requires you to actively seek out and build a bond with someone. They’re give and take relationships where each person has something to offer the other. Building relationships is an important part of developing yourself; so where do you start?
It all begins with goals. Think big and work backward— to pinpoint your goals, try using these steps:
- Know what you’re trying to achieve. What is it that you want to accomplish this year? In the next few years? In your current position? With your personal development?
- Identify relationships. Be realistic about how many people you can invest in at a time and really invest in those people. An example of identifying relationships could include getting to know someone in the department you want to move to.
- Identify individuals. Who are the possible individuals who might help you in reference to your goals? What type of person do you need to connect with and what should they be able to offer you? Make a list of these people.
- Do your homework. Research people on the list you made. What are their backgrounds? Check LinkedIn and bios on your company website. You don’t need a ton of detail, just enough to gather an impression.
- Determine what you have to offer. Once you’ve completed the previous steps, you need to figure out what you can offer each person you want to connect with. Remember, strategic relationships are a two-way street. You need to be in “give” mode first before you can “get.”
- Reach out and build a relationship. There’s a process for this too which we’ll outline in a future post.
Think of your strategic relationships as a benefit bank account. Every time you do someone a favor, you make a deposit. Every time someone helps you, you have a withdrawal. In starting up a relationship, you don’t want your bank account to be the one of debt. You need to accumulate some relationship capital first.
So give it a shot, take yourself through the steps above and see where you may want to build strategic relationships within your organization, or even outside of it.