If I have learned anything at college and through internships it is that personal relationships run the world.
Building social connections, not only through current friends but also future coworkers and employers, is an important objective for anyone. Not only do strong connections boost productivity and happiness in the workspace but they also allow greater opportunities to open up for you in the future.
Now, I am not saying that you should just make a bunch of friends or connections without sentimental value or genuine feeling. Make real friends. Think about how you’ve made friends in the past — you only made friends with people you genuinely want in your life. The same applies for work connections. Don’t overthink your objective; don’t force it. Be helpful and most people will happily return the favor of friendship, regardless of who they are.
Many people never reach out to those “above them” due to the fear that they wouldn’t be able to offer anything in the relationship. Even the biggest and most powerful people in the world — corporate CEOs, celebrities, or accomplished artists — need help with things they can’t do on their own. How do you think they got were they are today? Well, I can definitely tell you it wasn’t from sitting on their butts doing nothing. They were being assertive and making friends and connections who, at the time, were bigger than themselves.
Some simple things you can do include: writing an article or blog post about them, sharing their project with your community, engaging in meaningful conversation with in and outside of work, offering creative thinking or genuine ideas about a problem they might have, et cetera. If it turns out you can’t be that helpful, the gesture alone will stand out.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
It’s important to pay attention to who you wish to be friends or connect with — go beyond knowing what organizations they are affiliated with or what sports they play. Do your research — learn about their backgrounds and passions, invest genuine time into learning what matters to them and how you can help. (This is also a great work ethic to have in general when dealing with clients, customers, co-workers or bosses!)
Now remember, most job openings are filled through networking and referrals but it all comes back to being helpful. If you are genuine and supportive the rest will take care of itself. To be cliché, the world is your oyster. Having an economy of friends can be beneficial, and who knows where you’ll end up!