No matter what level you are at in your career journey, establishing and fostering strong professional connections is critical. Whether it’s your clients, colleagues, bosses, new hires, or people who come into your network by chance, these relationships add value to your work and can boost your career to the next level.
I spoke with Steve White, Senior Managing Director at Michael Page, who started as a Recruitment Consultant in 1998 and now heads the PageGroup business in Canada, Boston and Chicago. After nearly 17 years in the recruiting industry, building relationships is his forte. Today he shares his wisdom on how to approach relationships to drive your career forward.
Think Long-Term, Not Short-Term
Rather than viewing your interactions as short-term transactions, shift your mindset towards investing into the future. Identify who you want long-term professional relationships with and write a plan of what you want to achieve and when. Keep in mind that while some connections may become profitable right away, others may take months of development. Our company prides itself on the longevity of our staff and the retention of our clients because we are passionate about long-term growth. If you have a vision, stay realistic and provide an open and supportive culture, your relationships will blossom in due time.
If you say you are going to do something, follow through and do it. If a client, for instance, knows they can rely on you to consistently deliver, there is no need for them to look elsewhere. You become their point person and can retain that client for years. But in the case that you come across an issue and are unable to meet their needs, it is critical to be honest and communicate that up front. Position yourself as persistent and professional, and always remain committed to the task at hand. This will make you an irreplaceable connection and add trust to your credit.
Get Off the Internet and Meet in Person
In my opinion, email obsession and social media have diluted business relationships. I recommend face-to-face meetings as often as possible. Seeing people in person gives you the opportunity to develop better business chemistry, which in turn creates lasting impressions and deeper connections. You’ll build far better relationships in person then you will online.
Show You Have the Person’s Best Interest in Mind
I once had a fantastic candidate who was the clear front-runner for a Senior Director role with my client in the UK. My client offered him the position, but it was competing with several other offers he received outside of me. Rather than selling him all the benefits of why he should take my position, we spent time exploring whether it truly was a good fit for him now and in the future. I reassured him that if he walked away because it wasn’t right, I would understand. Not only did he take my position, but remains to be a loyal client of mine 15 years later. To this day, he quotes our conversation and says he has never had a discussion like that with a recruiter. The point is, people, appreciate sincerity. Differentiate yourself this way. Your interest in their professional well-being will be reciprocated.
Steve White is Senior Managing Director at Michael Page