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Why You Must Rethink How You Build Relationships - Forbes

Stashed in: Steve Jobs, Networking, Relationships, Social Media, Awesome, Give and Take, Relationships, Relationships, Relationship Building, Bite-sized Content, be human, Growth Mindset

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This is my newest Forbes article!Here is a summary:The digitization of relationships has fundamentally changed what it means to build a network in the 21st century. Thriving in this era of confusingly rapid change and information overwhelm means embracing network literacy ; the critical, counterintuitive skill set that helps individuals and businesses systematically build their networks.

Best thing I've read this month.  :)

Wow!! Thanks George!

Geege: please explain more. Which part most resonated with you and why?

Network Literacy – The Most Important Skill Set Of The 21st Century

Disruption in the relationship context is not a pretty or easy process. It forces us to challenge deeply held beliefs about what works and what doesn’t. It blurs lines (ie – professional and personal), creating awkwardness as different worlds collide.

Embracing network literacy in the 21st century means confronting the new reality and embracing a core set of principles:

  • Build a values system that is more social and less transactional.

    As the worlds between personal and professional blend, building friendships professionally means treating people more like friends and less like contacts.

Networking                                   Relationship Building

Transactional                                 Gift Based

Quantity (Numbers Game)              Quantity & Quality

Get Something                               Give Something

Talking                                           Listening & Asking Questions

Forced                                           Organic

Short-Term                                     Long-Term

Impress with Strengths                    Relate  with Vulnerability

Shallow                                          Deep

Score Keeping                                Open Tab

Infiltrate                                          Getting To Know

Contact                                          Friend

  • View micro-interactions as a new, valuable dimension of relationship building; not just shallow and meaningless.

    Liking, sharing, commenting, voting, reviewing, and tagging are all valid parts of real relationship building.

  • View social software as a form of productivity; not just a distraction.

    Increasingly, social software doesn’t just mean social media. More and more software categories are incorporating social elements as a core feature. At the same time, when usage turns into addiction, it hurts us professionally and personally.

  • Share content as a vehicle to build relationships; not just to share information.

    By sharing one’s story and gifts authentically, relationships are accelerated.

  • Always be investing in social capital.

    One of the most surprising and significant discoveries in science is the power of relationships in all areas of life and business. There is perhaps no better predictor of health,happiness, professional success, and business success. Relationship building isn’t just a means. It is an end in and of itself.

  • Build both a large, diverse network of consequential strangers and small, deep network of kindred spirits.

    As we go to a digital world, the balance of power has been democratized. Our main obstacle isn’t convincing the main gatekeepers of our industries (in my case as a book writer –  literary agent, book publisher, book stores). It is creating something that our tribes finds valuable and share. Therefore, who is relevant professionally and who isn’t changes. Having a deep and wide network each serve unique and valuable purposes.

Thank you. This one in particular speaks to me:

"Share content as a vehicle to build relationships; not just to share information."

Bite-sized content is like currency for building relationships.

Very cool Adam and George! It is very helpful to see what resonates and what doesn't in articles.

I agree with Geege that this is one of your best articles to date. You keep getting better!

That's a great one and I'm putting a link from there to here.

By the way, interesting choice to use a picture of Steve Jobs.

Jobs was notoriously bad in his treatment of people.

Adam - Good point on Jobs :) That was more to go along with the part of the article that talked about the iphone, but because there wasn't another photo, it uses that as the main photo of the article. In retrospect, I should have added another photo to the article.

Steve Jobs is useful as a bad example in this particular case. No worries. 

Haha, Adam you tried twice to move Michael from writing George to Geege... 

I'll try once:  Hey Michael, it's Geege, not George... 


Michael, I find your two columns that Geege cited above, "Networking" vs "Relationship Building" to be almost categorically good descriptors of poor to mediocre salespeople (networking) and great salespeople (relationship building).  That said, I think you've given solid, timeworn advice that works no matter what profession or personal relationship we find ourselves in.  Interesting to see that your categorical quality dispositions are being characterized as a result of digitized society: 

I can remember working with people that lectured on many of these same dispositions, for better and worse, back when we were using only typewriters and digits were phone numbers.  Nice to see you making these ideas fresh and still in play.

Haha - Geege and I had a DM conversation today, and I  all straightened out. :-) My brain was only showing me what I expected to see, not reality.

Michael, very nice article. I thought the qualities of "networking" vs. "relationship building" were quite poignant. The ones that spoke to me most were:

  • Get Something  vs. Give Something - Reminds me of all of Adam Grant's great stuff about this topic
  • Talking vs. Listening & Asking Questions
  • Impress with Strengths vs. Relate with Vulnerability - Reminds me of Brene Brown's nice TED talk about this

Interestingly, I myself am in sales (sales engineer), and I believe deeply that a successful corporate (and of course, personal) culture should be one of relationship building and not just transacting. In my sphere of influence, I am actively striving to move the needle in the right direction.

So keep those thoughtful articles coming! (And I am so glad you got things sorted out with my PandaWhale friend, George. :-))

Thanks Rich!!! I appreciate you sharing. What is it like applying these principles in the corporate arena? I've been an entrepreneur my entire life so I'm very curious.

Well, for me the effort has two dimensions - personal and organizational. In the personal realm, I try to practice this with everyone I come into contact with.

This includes my fellow sales engineers, the account managers I work with and, of course, the customers I support. I work with a specific team of account managers, and it has been rewarding to see us become more than just a group of people assigned to each other. We have become a team in a very real sense of the word. Dare I say even a bit like family? It's really putting into practice many of the concepts you mentioned in your article - listening, giving, relating.

In the organizational realm, I have been afforded the opportunity to conduct training sessions where I discuss these topics with a wide swath of people within the corporation. I am trying to help both sales engineers and account managers develop their soft skills, which includes improving their ability to build meaningful and effective relationships. I believe this can be done at any company, whether it's through "official" initiatives or grass roots efforts.

Those who want to make a difference can practice these concepts on a personal level. If they want to increase the scope of their influence, they can volunteer to mentor others, participate in special interest groups or join clubs like Toastmasters.These are just some things I can think of. I hope it's helpful!

Interesting that it took me about six months to think to re-connect you two.

Sometimes good ideas take time. 

Like a fine wine! :-)

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