Don’t Just Network, Start Building Relationships

Building Relationships

In the modern professional landscape, the emphasis on building extensive networks often overshadows the more meaningful endeavor of building genuine relationships. While “networking” typically focuses on quantity—amassing as many contacts as possible—building relationships prioritizes quality, depth, and mutual benefit. Shifting from a networking mindset to a relationship-building approach can lead to more sustainable and fulfilling professional and personal growth.

The Problem with Traditional Networking

Traditional networking often revolves around collecting business cards, adding contacts on LinkedIn, and attending as many events as possible to maximize visibility. This approach, however, can be superficial and transactional. Many professionals approach networking events with the sole intention of advancing their careers, which can lead to shallow connections that lack trust and genuine rapport. These connections are often based on immediate needs rather than long-term mutual support.

Moreover, the focus on quantity can dilute the quality of interactions. When individuals prioritize the number of connections over the depth of each relationship, they may fail to engage meaningfully with the people they meet. This can result in missed opportunities for deeper collaboration, mentorship, and support that come from truly knowing and understanding another person.

The Power of Building Relationships

Building relationships, on the other hand, is about creating meaningful, reciprocal connections that go beyond the surface. Relationships are built on trust, respect, and genuine interest in each other’s well-being and success. This approach fosters a supportive network that can provide more significant benefits over time, such as emotional support, long-term collaboration, and authentic recommendations.

Trust and Authenticity: Relationships are grounded in trust. When you invest time in getting to know someone, understanding their goals, values, and challenges, you build a foundation of trust that can lead to more meaningful and lasting connections. Authentic interactions where both parties feel valued and understood are more likely to result in mutual support and loyalty.

Mutual Benefit: Unlike transactional networking, relationship-building is about mutual benefit. It involves a give-and-take dynamic where both parties contribute to and gain from the relationship. This can lead to more sustainable and fulfilling professional connections. For example, mentors and mentees often find that they both learn and grow from the relationship, creating a win-win situation.

Deeper Connections: Deeper relationships provide a richer source of knowledge, support, and opportunities. When you truly understand someone’s strengths, interests, and challenges, you can provide more targeted help and receive more relevant advice and support. This depth can lead to collaborations that are more effective and satisfying.

How to Build Relationships

  1. Be Genuine and Authentic: Approach every interaction with a genuine interest in the other person. Ask questions, listen actively, and show empathy. Authenticity helps build trust and rapport, making the connection more meaningful.
  2. Invest Time: Building relationships takes time. Regularly check in with your contacts, offer support when needed, and celebrate their successes. Consistent engagement helps strengthen the bond over time.
  3. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity: It’s better to have a few deep, meaningful connections than many superficial ones. Focus on building strong relationships with a smaller group of people who share your values and interests.
  4. Be Generous: Offer your help and support without expecting anything in return. Whether it’s sharing knowledge, providing introductions, or offering a listening ear, generosity fosters goodwill and strengthens relationships.
  5. Communicate Openly: Open and honest communication is key to maintaining healthy relationships. Share your thoughts, feelings, and feedback respectfully, and encourage others to do the same.
  6. Cultivate Empathy: Try to understand things from the other person’s perspective. Empathy helps build deeper connections and fosters a sense of mutual respect and understanding.

Benefits of Building Relationships

Career Growth: Deep relationships can lead to more meaningful career opportunities. Recommendations and referrals from trusted connections are often more impactful than those from casual acquaintances. Moreover, having a network of supportive professionals can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout your career.

Personal Fulfillment: Relationships offer emotional support, companionship, and a sense of belonging. They can make your professional journey more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Collaboration and Innovation: Strong relationships can lead to better collaboration and innovation. When people trust and respect each other, they are more likely to share ideas openly and work together effectively.

Resilience: A supportive network of strong relationships can provide stability and resilience in times of challenge. Knowing that you have people you can rely on can make it easier to navigate professional and personal difficulties.


In a world where professional success often seems to hinge on who you know, it’s essential to move beyond the superficiality of traditional networking and focus on building genuine relationships. By prioritizing quality over quantity and investing in meaningful, reciprocal connections, you can create a robust, supportive network that offers far more than a long list of contacts ever could. Embracing this approach not only enhances your professional growth but also enriches your personal life, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced existence.

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Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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