When mentoring young professionals and students on planning their careers, I tell them what I wish someone would have told me early in my career. That is that two of the most important things you can learn that will enable your success in any field is communicating (especially public speaking) and developing strong business relationships. We’ll save communicating for another post but the topic of this post will be how to develop strong business relationships.
Most people take the standard “networking” approach to developing business relationships. They go to conferences, seminars, local chapter meetings, and networking functions regularly and hand out as many business cards as they can. The focus is solely on contact acquisition. If you’re primary activity in networking is handing your business card to every person you meet, you’re a networking jerk. Stop doing that!
Instead, you should focus on developing the relationships you already have.