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The power of relationships: what networking has taught me



Strong relationships: the missing link in modern businesses:

As I begin my third year as a business-owner or solopreneur, I was reflecting on the power of relationships.  I have always been an advocate of having strong relationships within our teams and organizations.  Sadly, however, they’ve slowly been eroded within our businesses as the significance of task completion has become the norm.  


Aside from the over-reliance on task completion, I believe there are reasons for relationship-erosion within our organizations:

  • Down-sizing. 40 years of downsizing has increased the tasks assigned to team members therefore reducing the resources of time and emotional/mental energy necessary to develop and sustain organizational relationships,

  • Elimination of the summer picnic and holiday parties.  The importance of these events was in the ability to connect with others and get to know them as humans rather than colleagues.  They usually included kids, further empowering human to human connections, commonality, and community.

  • Remote working.  Remote working has further eroded our ability to maintain relationships.  I experienced this first-hand while working as a remote team.  Turns out that humans get an oxytocin boost by close personal connections and even eye-contact!  Its difficult to have eye contact with a camera. 

 

As I embarked on my own solopreneur opportunities, I quickly discovered networking groups.  The beauty of them, whether large international groups like BNI or small, local groups like Level Up networking (based in Sumner & Tacoma, WA https://www.facebook.com/LevelUpNetworkbiz), is in the development and sustainability of relationships.  


Each networking event provides business owners with the opportunity to highlight their business; the real beauty of networking however is in the one-to-one meetings.  Networking has really made me re-think how to establish and build those relationships. Dedicated time spent getting to really know your teammates is definitely not encouraged in our modern organizations.  The one-to-one meetings are a profoundly missing piece. 

 

2024: the year of the one-to-one

The value of one-to-one’s with other businesses has been one the most insightful experiences in my tenure as a business owner.  Professionally, it has allowed me to give other businesses my support and referrals, but personally, I’ve developed strong relation- and friendships. 

 

To my friends and colleagues in the corporate world, take a greater appreciation for time to connect in 2024, and encourage it!  Yes, many relationships develop organically. But... what if we encouraged employees to reach across the isle to other's whom we might not ever think to connect? When we really get to know one another at a much deeper level, both our operations and our employee’s benefit:

  • Operational efficiencies improve as we break down organizational silos,

  • Alleviates the us and them mentality,

  • Improves organizational dynamics through an increase in trust and psychological safety,

  • Reduces unhealthy, personal conflict,

  • We produce greater amounts of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins: powerful happy, brain chemicals that supports overall well-being,

  • Increases employee engagement,

  • Helps new employees socialize more quickly,

  • Enhances gratitude,

  • Enhances communication, and so much more!

 

Take the opportunity to spend more time with one another, here are a couple of ways to begin.  

  1. Make it an operational or team goal to enhance organizational relationships. 

  2. Carve out space in the day to encourage team members to connect with each other, by scheduling one-to-ones. 

  3. Create physical space for quiet conversations.  

  4. As a formal leader, lead the way by taking each of your team members for coffee and conversations. 

 

Our workdays are so much more than marketing, accounting, and getting through the tasks.  Our work is often challenging, sometimes stressful, on occasion we even experience trauma, and we spend a great deal of time with our colleagues.  Embrace the greater relationship and bring more joy to the workplace through more one-to-one events and stronger organizational relationships.   

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