Building relationships in anything we do isn’t exactly easy to do, let alone trying to make it happen in the workplace. We probably all struggle with that internal voice telling us that we should worry about what other people think, or wonder if swapping numbers and saying we’ll hangout really just means saving some digits neither person will ever use. But instead of worrying about all that bullshit, how about focus on actually following through with the promise of getting to know people in your industry and make yourself stand out from everyone else. Why? Because it goes a long way in determining the success of your career path, that’s why.
One thing that everyone has always told me is that I’m awesome at developing and keeping relationships. I take it as a badge of honor, but, oftentimes, I wonder what it actually means. In my mind, when there’s another person around, you talk to one another. Yep, it’s really that simple.
No matter if that’s sharing an elevator with them on the way up a high rise, holding the door for them as they walk into a coffee shop or, more importantly, when you work 50+ hours together. With all that time around work, wouldn’t you want to get to know a little bit more about each other? I sure as hell hope so.
That’s where two phrases should cross your mind: Performance currency and relationship currency.
Carla Harris is a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, and, in her book, Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, or Start Over in Your Career, she talks specifically about the two currencies mentioned above: performance currency and relationship currency. Harris mentions that, far too often, people make the mistake thinking that great work in the office will get them noticed more, and lead them up the ladder. It’s important, but, as Harris puts it, behind closed doors, it’s the person who is capable of building relationships with others that gets the vote of approval.
You already know it’s important to distinguish your personal values in order to help you succeed in business, but it’s also important to determine which currency, performance or relationship, means most to you, too. That’s because, if you focus too much on overall performance, you may be hurting yourself in the long run.
How Can Building Relationships Help With Success?
We probably all know the term, “It’s who you know, not what you know.” While a lot of us want to scoff at that and call B.S., sorry to say it, but it’s true. Even if you have an Ivy League degree and all the skills in the world, if you didn’t sell yourself well to other people, you’re likely to get passed over for a job. That’s the cold hard truth.
That’s why it’s crucial to build relationships with people and show great character when engaging with coworkers. Be open and make yourself available to others, avoiding the disastrous work excuse of always saying “I’m busy,” and your efforts will be rewarded when it’s time. By treating the intern like you do the CEO shows that you’re authentic, which is one of the key traits someone looks for when they want to recommend you for a new role.
Of course, make sure you’re doing good work, too, but by going the extra mile, you’ll stand out by creating memorable experiences outside of just work success, which can make all the difference when continuing on your career path.
Look, building relationships can be frightening — especially if you’re an introvert. It can cause anxiety and just add more stress to your already full plate at work. But by going the extra step and choosing to value relationship currency over only performance currency, you’ll put yourself in a better position to succeed.