As students or recent graduates, we continually wear multiple hats. But one major opportunity I think most of us are missing is building quality relations with our peers and the random people we meet throughout the day. One of my mentors once said “have friendly competition with your classmates, know that someday you will all graduate and that you will  be looking for the same jobs as them, and that someday they may be able to help you get into a great company in a great career.” – Katie Smith

I specifically use the word “relations” and not “connections”, because it implies that you have created a mutually beneficial relationship with a person. A connection is more of a one-way relationship; you keep in contact with a connection when in the future you want something from that person. I want you to build positive relationships with people, where you don’t feel awkward commenting on their post on LinkedIn or Facebook. You should not feel uncomfortable asking about how they are doing and what is new with their kids. So here are 3 steps to build quality relationships.

  1. Foundation: When meeting people in places of power in their career or a classmate you talk to in class, remember their name and start a conversation that isn’t always on the subject where do they work, and what’s their major. People are not just what they do, so find out more about them. Learn about where they are from, what’s their family like, what are they interesting or passionate in. You will take them by surprise and most likely spark a relationship.
  2. Build: Normally, for quality relationships to form, you need to see that person more than once. Make sure to invite them to coffee and if you see them in class everyday maybe start sharing stories of your life. This personalizes your relationship and it shows that you’re interested in knowing them. The goal is to really have that person say, after knowing you for a little bit, what a nice person you are to their friends. By the end of the build time you should be connected with them over some form of social media that shows you in a somewhat professional manner.
  3. Maintain: You might not see that person very often any more but you can still do things to maintain the relationship. Comment on the post, wish them a happy thanksgiving, ask about their families, congratulate them when they get married, comment on their new profile picture, and if that person did something nice for you in the past, just show gratitude and send a thank you. Call them or text them occasionally, saying that you miss having them around. I know from experience that this works because I have stayed in contact with people I haven’t seen in 3 -5 years and still when I ask if they like to go get coffee – they say yes.

So go out there and build relations with the people around you — don’t be a stranger!

posted by Zack Sperow, Career Assistant

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