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Who you know has always been important in opening up possibilities and opportunities in your life. It is never too early to start building relationships in your network. Relationships work when both parties experience benefits and they can last, even through dormant periods, when the positive feelings associated with the relationship are strong.

So what kind of things could you consider to help build a strong and long-lasting relationship? The foundation has to be in building rapport and trust. Spend time getting to know the other person, as a person, not just for the role s/he plays in the relationship. Be willing to share some vulnerability, as we trust people who we perceive as human like us; individuals who present ‘perfection’ are too good to be true, so we don’t trust them. We all have things to learn and learning in a collaborative way can be fun as well as supportive and encouraging.

Top tips on building relationships that are mutually beneficial:

  • Show respect for the other person and be reasonable in what you request of them and what you promise to do … and deliver on those promises, (including apologising if you can’t meet an expectation)
  • Be open-minded – you never know where the ideas and solutions will come from, so keep an open mind and give due consideration to all options. Think in a broad context and develop creative solutions together
  • Be honest – share how things really are for you, rather than maintain a façade, we can help each other best when we understand the situation from the other person’s point of view
  • Take action – in a helping relationship, both parties benefit when the ‘client’ takes action. It is not just about thinking and talking through options, but also about taking action on the ideas discussed. You may also agree that the helper will take action to support the ‘client’. In a helping relationship, progress towards the goal is an important motivator for both parties.

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