How to Cultivate Excellent Professional Relationships is a blog post by guest author Patrick Sweet, P.Eng., MBA
Professional relationships are key to success in any profession. Engineering is no exception. Success is fueled as much by who you know as it is by what you know. While this may seem unfair, there’s a perfectly logical reason for this: people do business with people they know, like, and trust. And how do you get people to know, like, and trust you? Through relationships.
Today, I’m going to share five actions you can take to cultivate excellent professional relationships. All of these strategies are simple, and anyone can implement them, regardless of where you are in your career, or what industry you work in. All of them will help others to get to know, like, and trust you.
1. Give, give, give
The first, and possibly most important way to build relationships is to give without looking for anything in return. You can give your expertise, your time, your experience, an old book, or anything else for that matter. A relationship is really just the ongoing exchange of things between people. If you can take the first step and give to someone else in a way that they value, it will go a long way to building a relationship.
2. Make commitments and honor them
This one is pretty simple. It boils down to saying what you’ll do and doing what you say. This is the single best way to earn trust with another person. You’ll note that you can’t really follow through on commitments if you never actually make any in the first place. If you want to foster a relationship, you need to put yourself out there and lay it on the line for that person.
3. Practice excellence
In all that you do, be excellent. If you can demonstrate that when you commit to something you not only do it, but also do it extraordinarily well, strong professional relationships will form.
4. Be personable
We all have lives outside of work, though many of us are reluctant to share that side of ourselves. I’ve never understood why, exactly. When I look back on my career, the people that I got along with best were those who were open with me about their lives outside of work. Those people knew my daughter’s name and told me about the funny thing their spouse said the night before. I knew their favorite bands and teams. They were real people. You can work well with coworkers, but you can develop true relationships with people, and people are multidimensional. Allow yourself to be who you really are, and others will follow suit.
5. Be thoughtful
Simple things like making introductions between people who you think would like to know one another or passing along an interesting article to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while can have a huge impact on your relationship with the people you reach out to. Sending an article can take as little as sixty seconds, but the person who gets it will be touched that you thought of them, specifically. This kind of thing can do wonders in terms of helping someone to get to know you and like you better.
Cultivating meaningful professional relationships is not all that complicated. It takes initiative, and it takes sustained effort – like any other relationship in life. If you practice any of the methods mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to growing stronger, more meaningful relationships.
About Patrick Sweet
Patrick Sweet, P.Eng., MBA, ASEP is a recognized expert in engineering management and leadership with expertise in systems engineering, project management and product management. You can read more from Pat at the Engineering & Leadership blog.
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success