4 Keys to Fostering Meaningful Professional Relationships

Human beings are naturally social creatures – we crave friendship and positive interactions. While nurturing our personal relationships sets the foundation for our lives, building professional relationships is essential to business and career success.

“Your network is your net worth.” -Tim Sanders

Thus, we should aim to establish and cultivate deep and truly genuine relationships with the people in our professional lives.

But meaningful relationships, whether personal or professional, don’t just happen. It’s important to actively nurture and build these relationships, as they can see you through all stages of success.

Whether it’s your boss, colleagues, mentors, clients or customers, or other people in your professional network, apply these tips as you’re cultivating more meaningful relationships.

1. Study human psychology. Not everyone you meet has the best of intentions. Thus, it’s important to become a good judge of character to determine who should be in your network. The more you understand how people are wired and what motivates them, the more effective you will be at discerning which relationships are worth cultivating. As you learn more about how factors like society and culture impact behavior, you might find yourself gaining a deeper understanding of the many influences that have impacted your own life.

“Deal with everyone, but know who you’re dealing with.” – Duma Alphonse

2. Be authentic. Once you’ve determined a person is a good fit for your network, present your authentic self. Honest representation of yourself and your intentions is necessary for cultivating meaningful relationships. You can’t expect others to open up to you if you are guarded and masked. Avoid sucking up or being fake. People can sense phoniness. Showcase your true self and the right relationships will develop naturally

“People are more complicated than the masks they wear in society.” ― Robert Greene

3. Add value. When developing professional relationships, you must lead with value. Ask yourself, “How can I add value to you and what you’re working on?” Asking this question before asking for something for yourself, demonstrates that you are more concerned with building a genuine relationship than getting something out of it for yourself. Plus, when you’re the first to offer up something of value, you’re much more likely to have your need fulfilled.

“Strong and meaningful relationships start with good intent.” -Syed Balkhi

4. Embrace vulnerability. All relationships require vulnerability and respect. This is why discerning people’s true motives early on is so important when cultivating relationships. It’s nearly impossible to be vulnerable with someone you do not trust and respect. Once mutual trust and respect have been established, lean into it. Always remain professional, but don’t shy away from injecting aspects of your personal life into your work life. Create a safe environment so others feel comfortable to do the same.  You can only get what you give. Remember: people want to work with and do business with people they like. Vulnerability is key to likability.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” -Brene Brown

Building and maintaining meaningful professional relationships will not only make you more engaged and committed to your organization and business; it can also open doors to new clients, career advancement, and raises.

Kelda Senior is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a business development and accredited public relations professional from Florida. For the past 10 years, Kelda has served as a communications and community outreach specialist in local, state and federal government, with an emphasis on the transportation sector since 2012. Kelda is the owner of Senior Communications LLC, a boutique public relations firm focused on helping emerging brands cultivate their message and move their audiences to action. Kelda holds a B.A. in journalism and a master of public administration – both from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. You can read her posts here.

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Avatar photo Spencer Grady-Pawl

Great reminder that it’s important to nurture relationships—I know we can all sometimes fall into the trap of taking them for granted.

Avatar photo Blake Martin

Totally agree with you and second Spencer’s previous comment. Companies often say that their best aspect is their people; I think we sometimes forget to think similarly of our personal networks.