The importance of adding people to your network is a given; developing connections into relationships is a requirement for success. Nothing is more important, though, than keeping your network strong and lasting. I like to say that we may lose or switch jobs or even move to another country; but we can take our relationships with us. The way you think about relationships is the way you manage your network. Relationships don’t need to end, they will just change. Keeping your network strong makes the difference between having a network built on a number of contacts or a network built on trust, respect, and genuine feelings of friendship. Here are a few networking lessons to help you maintain a strong and lasting network:
- Every relationship is different–know the benefits and the limits of each relationship
- You are your reputation–understand that all your actions impact all your relationships
- Words count–always speak kindly of others
Get to know the person, not the title–treat everyone you meet with courtesy and respect
- Become a resource to your network and to your network’s network–share your expertise and information freely
- It’s not about you–let the other person set the pace of the relationship
The poet Khalil Gibran said: “Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” Our network can provide us access to unlimited professional and personal opportunities, especially if we take the responsibility to nurture and care for our network as we would our friends.