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Beyond Networking: Tips for Building Great Relationships in Your Career

Cox employee networking outdoors

The word “networking” might conjure up images of people small-talking over hors d'oeuvres. Think stiff, surface-level conversations with strangers ­– the kind that might be a nightmarish scenario for the introverts among us.

But expanding and deepening your career network doesn’t have to be a stuffy corporate exercise. Yes, networking offers many professional benefits: it can open doors to opportunities, strengthen your reputation and lead to knowledge-sharing. But at its core, networking is simply about human relationships.  

It’s settled: let’s leave the term “networking” in the past altogether and use “building relationships” instead. With that in mind, what are some practical tips for building relationships in the professional world? Whether you’re attending an industry event, making connections at a conference or simply getting to know a mentor over coffee, here are some things we recommend.


Know yourself.

Self-awareness is a key tenet of emotional intelligence, and therefore a vital part of building relationships. Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses in the workplace? Do you have a sense of how others perceive you, and how you want to be seen by them?

Developing a knowledge of your personal brand is a good first step to take before you begin the intentional process of building relationships to advance your career. We recommend crafting an elevator pitch: a short and memorable way to summarize yourself to others.


Check your motives.

We’ve already established that – rightly or wrongly – networking can be seen as self-serving and shallow. You can help combat that by examining your own motives for building relationships; after all, relationships are a two-way street that require you to give as well as receive.

So, what do you hope to gain from expanding relationships at work? Instead of simply asking for favors – like referrals and mentorship – be prepared to help your network out as well. For example, you might take on stretch assignments, facilitate collaboration between disparate teams or act as a conduit to connection within your network.


Seek diverse perspectives.

Your work life would be pretty boring if everyone communicated the same way, thought the same things and did the same kind of work. As you aim to build meaningful relationships, think about how you can cultivate a diverse network: people from many different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Step outside of your industry, your location (flexible work is really helpful for this!) and comfort zone to connect with others. You'll be surprised at how much you learn! 


Be genuine.

Here at Cox, we have a saying that goes “your uniqueness is your magic.” Networking scenarios require professionalism, of course; but they’re also an opportunity for you to exhibit authenticity and let your personality shine through. Keep things real in your interactions; others will notice and appreciate it.


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