How to build a new relationship and network

​I recently received a link to an excellent video, from the Daily Kindness Blog on how to build a new relationship and grow your network.

No matter what you are trying to achieve in life, you are going to find it much easier if you have the right people on your side. You can go through life trying to kick every door down or, you can build relationships which mean that you only have to knock on the door and receive a warm welcome.

Obviously, the second option is preferable, but it does take a little effort to build those relationships. For many people, the thought of reaching out and connecting with new people is scary. The thought alone brings feelings of anxiety.

In the video below, David Burkus, discusses the reasons why it is important to build new relationships and expand your network. He then provides simple, practical advice for how you can more comfortably build a new relationship, without the stress and the anxiety.

Below the video, I provide key takeaways and my own insights on the topic.

Check the video out below:

​Source: TEDx Talks

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​Key takeaways

​The following are my key takeaways from this video. I have expanded on these takeaways to offer my own thoughts.

​1. There is an awkwardness

​When you are trying to build your relationships and, build your network; you most likely feel awkward. It is only natural and, it is something which everybody feels from time to time.  So, don’t beat yourself up for it.

The main reason for the awkwardness is that you are going into the situation cold. You have no connection whatsoever with this person so, it feels very unnatural when you try to connect with someone new. When you try to force it, you are going to feel awkward.

In many ways trying to build a new relationship with someone whom you don’t have any connection with is like trying to build a house without a foundation. A great house will have a deep, strong foundation. The same is true for a great relationship.

​Related

If you want to have strong, open and honest relationships, How to Talk So Others Listen will give you the techniques and strategies to do so.


​2. Redefine networking

​The way to get over the awkwardness you feel when trying to build a new relationship is to go through your existing relationships. You may well have an existing relationship with someone who does have a connection with that person.

If you can identify somebody who links both you and the person whom you are trying to build a new relationship with, you can ask for an introduction. The introduction breaks down the awkwardness barrier and gives you an existing connection, which you can expand upon to build a strong foundation for the future relationship.

As soon as the introduction is made, you are no longer working with a cold relationship. There is some warmth in the relationship.


​3. The world really is small

​In 2005, I was on a tour of The Norther Territories, in Australia. We stopped off at a swimming area which was few hundred kilometres from the nearest town. As we were swimming, another bus pulled up and the passengers joined us in the water.

Three Irish girls heard my accent and came over to chat. They asked me where I was from In Ireland. When I told them, they were able to tell me that one of their best friends was in a relationship with someone whom I had gone to school with.

I met these strangers in the middle of nowhere, thousands of miles from home, and yet there was only one degree of separation between us. I have had many more experiences like this upon my travels.

Rather than just struggle trying to build a new relationship, realise that you are already connected in some way to the person whom you want to build that relationship with. You just need to find that connection. You may have to go through more than one person to get there but you really won’t have to go very far.


​4. Use what you have already got

​Have you ever wanted to increase your income? You may have realised that it is much easier to make money if you have already have some money. All you have to do is invest that money in a manner which gains interest or, increases the value of your investment.  If you use the right financial adviser to give you the best advice, you can make a good return on your money.

No matter what you are trying to accomplish in life, the same principle will apply – the easiest way to get more of something is to use what you have already got. You might not have a lot of money available for investments, but you have relationships which you can use to build a new relationship or, as many new relationships as you want.

Even if you don’t have a clear goal for wanting to build new relationships, it is always worth expanding your network by adding new connections with great people.


​5. Don’t forget the dormant relationships

​This is a wonderful piece of advice from Burkus. We all have dormant relationships which we can re-awaken. These are people whom we have been friendly with in the past but, for one reason or another, we have failed to keep in touch with them.

Identify these people and reach out. You don’t need to have an agenda. In fact, it is better if you don’t have one. Make a list of these relationships, reach out and shoot the breeze. Take a genuine interest in them and their life.

You may find that there was a good reason why you didn’t say in touch, but it is just as likely that you will find that this person adds something to your life. It is fun to reconnect and, there is also the benefit of an expanded network and more possible connections further down the line.

​You don't always have to build a new relationship to expand your network. It can be more effective to rekindle a dormant relationship.

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​6. Your friends shape you

​There is an old saying by Jim Rohn:

‘You are average of your 5 closest friends’

There is great truth in this statement as the people whom you spend the most time with are going to have an influence on you. They will help to shape your identify, your values, your goals, your thoughts and behaviours. So, it is important that you choose your peer group wisely.

Burkus informs us that research has shown that not only do your direct friends have a profound influence on you. The influence spreads across three degrees of separation i.e. a friend of a friend, of a friend has an impact on your life.  The following are just some of the ways in which your network has been shown to have an impact on your life:

  • Your network impacts your weight. If they are overweight or, obese, it is more likely that you will be too.
  • ​Your network affects your happiness. Incredibly, research has shown that a friend of a friend, of a friend; has a greater impact (6%) on your happiness than a $10,000  pay rise (2%). Think about that for a minute.

​I hope that the last point will cause you to think about the factors that do have an impact on your happiness and; those which do not have an impact on your happiness.

There really is great truth in the old adage:

‘Show me your friends and I will show you your future’


​7. Networking increases career opportunities

​Every thing I have said so far is about increasing the size of your network and, the quality of your network. When you do this, you are going to create more opportunities for yourself in all areas of your life; particularly your career. Not only will you hear about opportunities you would not otherwise have heard of but; there will be times when people in your network will reach out to you because they have heard something on the grapevine. You might not be actively looking at the time but word still reaches you.

Every time that you build a new relationship, you increase the chances of something like this happening but you don’t have to build a new relationship for your networking skills to benefit your career.

We all know people who are great networkers. They stick out like a sore thumb. Their skills are clear to see, even when they are not making any effort to display them. In this knowledge work era, where everything is constantly changing, strong networking skills are essential. And, not everyone has them.

This makes people with strong networking skills more valuable. Great companies will do everything they can to attract these people and, once they have them, they want to hold onto them.

​Strong networking skills increase your chances of getting pay rises and promotions.

​Assertiveness Tactics Report

​Building and maintaining strong relationships requires you to be assertive. You can learn some great strategies with my FREE Assertiveness Tactics report.


Get Your FREE Copy


​8. When you can’t find that connection

​As I have said, the connection always exists but sometimes, try as you might, you just can’t find it. So, what do you do then?

The best advice is to play the long game. There are few things more annoying than someone who makes a connection with you and immediately looks for something from you. The best relationships don’t work like this. They are built naturally, over time between two people who have a genuine interest in each other.

So, when you want to build a new relationship with a stranger; seek to warm that relationship by focusing on them rather than what they do for a living and, what you can get from them. Focus on their hobbies, interests, values etc.

It won’t be long before you find common ground and when you do, you can build it from there. You will eventually build a better relationship which both people benefit from.

Related

If you want to have strong, open and honest relationships, How to Talk So Others Listen will give you the techniques and strategies to do so.


​Conclusion

If you want to build a new relationship, it does not have to be a fearful, anxious experience. You don’t have to start with a cold relationship. The world is much smaller than you think it is and, you are connected to that person in some way. If you can find that connection, you can get an introduction which makes the relationship a lot warmer to begin with. Too often we ignore existing relationships when we are trying to build a new relationship but, the most effective way to build a new relationship is to go through an existing relationship. Change your approach to networking and you will benefit from it in many areas of your life.