Networking Secret #2: Make Business Relationships Personal
The most common mistake people make when building relationships for success is treating business contacts differently than personal friends.
Just think for a moment about the people you work with on a professional level who are also close, personal friends. Aren't they always more forgiving when you slip up and more helpful when you're in need? Of course! I guarantee your work will become easier and more joyful if you make more of your business relationships personal.
Show Them You're Human
How to do it? The same way you make genuine friends outside of work. Build trust through intimacy. Show them that besides being professional, you're also human. Skip the small talk, and go deep into what really matters -- your interests and passions, your struggles and frustrations. And don't think for a moment that they'll think less of you for showing that kind of vulnerability. In fact, usually the opposite happens.
When I tell people about my humble beginnings and how it took me so long to overcome my insecurities of being poor and getting picked on by kids from more well-to-do families, people don't think less of me. They immediately empathize and feel more endeared to me than ever before. All you have to do is let your guard down and show enough vulnerability to make others comfortable with opening up to you.
So remember: Business relationships are personal relationships. From getting a raise to finding romance, the same rules apply.
Mix Your Business and Personal Lives
Don't stop with treating business friends as personal friends, though. Be sure to mix them, too.
Someone said to me recently, "Gee, I only have one night in New York. It's too bad I can't see Potential Future Employer A, because I should really see Client B instead."
My response: "Nonsense! Invite both people out! And by the way, you've been single too long, so invite a date along, too!"
My friend thought of limitations, whereas I saw a great opportunity. It's a chance to be face-to-face with two people who are critical to your success. Plus, you're not the only one who can be helpful to your client! You'll be surprised how your other clients, contacts or personal friends can help them also. You can keep up your personal life by including a date, a significant other or a few good, fun friends. Most important, such an amalgam of associates always makes for a much more robust, fun and personal conversation.
Blur the Boundaries
No, you probably won't have a chance to get your five bullet points out about why you're better for the job than the next guy or why your firm's services are better than the competition's, but that's really not as unfortunate as you think. Those bullet points aren't going to make a lick of difference when someone is deciding who to hire or what to buy. It's the personal, human relationship that really matters.
We all have more opportunities than we realize to overlap our personal and professional lives and to make more of our business relationships personal ones. Don't compartmentalize; blur the boundaries! You'll have more fun, enrich your relationships and do more in less time for your success and happiness in all three parts of your life.