professional friendships network with people you like

Professional friendships network with people you like

Steve Kimmens Career resilience, Develop your skills, Networking Leave a Comment

Hate networking? Your doing it wrong! Meet with people you like.

Professional friendships make maintaining your network easy. Networking can be impersonal and inauthentic. We might look at networking as the antithesis of friendship. At work we have lots of professional friendships that we leave to hibernate when we get a new job.

Take the time and effort to stay in touch with people you like – it’s something even introverts can do!

 

Take the time to reconnect with professional friends to grow and maintain your network.

 

 

Networking can blind us to our professional friendships

We all know that connections matter, but when I speak to people about networking, I hear the same refrains:

  • ‘not being that type of person’,
  • ‘not enjoying cocktail parties’,
  • ‘just wanting to do my job’, and
  • ‘not wanting to waste people’s time.’

These are all great reasons not to network, but they all miss the point of networking.

Networking is about building and maintaining connections with people we like. The people we like at work are often our professional friends.

 

Networking isn’t about clambering the corporate hierarchy (and stepping on people along the way).

More often than not, we overlook the people we used to work with because we have the false impression that networking is about clambering up the corporate hierarchy. As a result we lose touch with them, and almost become embarrassed to reach out to them again.

 

A strong measure of your career resilience is the strength of your network. The strength of your connections, for you to be able to reach out and have a coffee, or to ask them about a job you have seen advertised, or for them to reach out to you if they see a role you would be suitable for.

 

Networking is about building and maintaining connections

At work we have professional friendships. Sometimes these friendships live on without work needing to bring you together. Often, once one of you leaves the friendship will quietly hibernate.

If you leave a friendship to hibernate for too long it will die.

At work we also have connections with people where it might be more of a mentoring relationship. For instance, you may have worked on a project that got you in front of an executive. The two of you aren’t friends, but you built a connection and were able to pick their brain on different topics.

The executive is a valuable connection, she can connect you to other people and give you valuable insights. Just like your professional friendships, unless you do something to maintain the connection it will hibernate and then die.

 

Why don’t we maintain these professional connections? Laziness.

One of the big reasons people don’t network is that they are lazy. You might think that’s unfair, but we spend out time on what is important. Everyone has lots of important things in their life.

Maintaining your network isn’t a priority in your busy life and everyone is busy.

Or we expect someone else to do the work and reach out to us – if they really cared or valued us they would organise the catch-up.

Unfortunately, it comes down to you to prioritise and make it happen.

 

“No matter when or how we make our friends, the pattern of human behaviour is to lose them over time.”

Professor Wendy Moyle, Sydney Morning Herald

 

Make networking simple by regularly maintaining your professional friendships

If you committed 1 hour a month to meet a former professional friend and check in to see how they’re doing you’ll be able to maintain and build your connections.

What makes this even easier is that you ACTUALLY like these people.

Conversation is easy because you have HISTORY.

Because you don’t work together anymore you can easily talk about topics that might have been trickier when you were in the same team or company.

 

How to maintain your professional friendships

Step 1 – commit to spending an hour a month connecting with someone you used to work with.

Step 2 – choose a professional friend to reconnect with.

Step 3 – send them an email or a message to organise a coffee or lunch to meet up.

Not sure what to say?

Hi Sharon,

It has been ages since we caught-up. How about we grab a coffee on Friday XX at 10am at Coffee Café?

I’ve worked in a couple of companies since we were working together.

It would be great to hear about how you’re getting on and I’d like to pick your brain on a project I’m working on.

Thanks,

Martin

Step 4 – meet-up with them, if either of you needs to reschedule then lock in a new time.

Step 5 – repeat with another professional friend.

 

Professional friendships make maintaining your network easy

Stop with the excuses and start maintaining your network by reconnecting with professional friends.

These connections are easy because you already know each other.

The challenge is spending the 10 minutes to reach out and organise the meeting.

Overcome the challenge of being busy, everyone is and they always will be, to make time for people you like.

 

Make this a career habit

Use a career coaching session to help you adopt this habit, don't waste another year or two, take action now.

Take the next step

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