Problem solving is the catalyst to the beginning of many great professional relationships.
In fact, it is starting point for almost any type of relationship. Two singles meet with the problem of not having a partner. The relationship with a customer usually starts with solving a problem. The relationship with a new boss often starts with the problem of a vacancy.
Why do many professional relationships fail to thrive?
Most of the time, the need to solve the problem becomes bigger than the relationship and the relationship dies when the problem is over. Over years in recruitment, it was very common to see a communication and connection develop very quickly with someone who was unemployed or proactively looking for a job, especially when they could see you as a solution. In many cases, once the “transaction” is done, the relationship flattens and the phone stops ringing. The onus is on the service provider to maintain the connect as a general rule.
Probably a reasonable expectation when you know the recruiter is paid for their service. However, it is very different in a traditional professional relationship outside of your company. From an accounting and finance point of view, neither party will pay for the privilege to help or be helped the other, especially in a traditional networking context. So if you start a valuable relationship, how do you keep it sticky?
It’s a dating game.
First you get to know each other. You listen. You discuss.
Then, if you like each other, you create a reason to do it again.
Maybe next time it’s at a different place, different time, different reason. The relationship evolves.
As you get to know each other, you work out what would be valuable to the other person and you help make that happen. It doesn’t always work, but you try.
There are professionals everywhere wanting to build their network. At least they say they do. The barrier comes from the approach (being too transaction and self-focused) and the persistence (the engagement stops after the need is addressed).
If you want to seriously expand your network, make some time and continue to engage. If you don’t, it’s unlikely it will sustain. Even a text, quick email or message is a nice way to keep things working.
Make time for it. It’s a relationship, not a race.