Building Professional Relationships at Work and On The Web

The Fundamentals of Building Professional Relationships at Work and On The Web

  1. Building a professional database is simple.
  2. A database is not a network.  It is a contact list.
  3. Building a network of professional relationships takes time.
  4. The best time to invest time in building these relationships is before the time that you will actually need them.

I have known people who have gotten fifteen to twenty years into their career before realizing that they had not developed a strong enough professional network to support their career.


Friends become friends, because they have common interests. Listen to what people are saying about their families, their jobs, their hobbies, the books they read, the games they play, the sports teams they follow.  Look for the common interests and ask them about what they think about the things that interests them.  If you need a friend, become a friend.

People enjoy talking about things that are interesting to them. They become friends with people who will listen and add information that helps the conversation flow on those interests.

People enjoy hearing things that are consistent with their beliefs.

Friends seldom bond over disagreements.  If you happen to have different views about things that a person likes, talk about the things you like in common.  I have seen business relationships fall apart as easily over sports issues as financial issues.


Offering to help people when you need help yourself can sometimes be difficult.

Yet the people you contact will more greatly appreciate your contacting them if you also offer to help them.  You are looking to develop professional relationships not just build a database.

You are not going to play golf or go to a movie with everyone you know in business, but you do want people to see you as a person who has their interest at heart.

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For now, I am going to focus on LinkedIn and come back to Facebook, Google, Twitter, and perhaps Tumblr later.

LinkedIn Connections: 
For most LinkedIn users, their connections are people they know. These LinkedIn members have developed professional relationships with these people.  I have among my LinkedIn connections people with whom I have developed relationships recently.  Others I have known over time.

I am sure that there are people for whom their LinkedIn connections database is a giant spam machine.  My experience with LinkedIn is very good in this regard.  I believe that LinkedIn has done a very skilful job of limiting spammers while allowing people to build fabulous contact files.

LinkedIn Groups:  From my experience, LinkedIn groups are best used as a place to get help.  Here is what I have seen to be the most effective use of these groups.

The Do’s

  1. Do ask questions that engage people in a discussion.
  2. Do offer answers to questions other people have asked.
  3. Do compliment people or simply like ideas they have shared
  4. Do post news or information that is specifically relevant to a group.

The Don’ts

Don’t post an article from your website just because you want exposure.
Don’t criticize or argue with people on the Internet.
Don’t get into religious or political discussions on a professional group forum.
Don’t say anything at all if you can’t say something nice.

LinkedIn Invitations:  When you are inviting people to connect with you or to join your group, you might consider these additional ideas.

  1. Do give specific positive reference to comments people have made in a group as a reason you are inviting them to connect with you.
  2. Do include a genuine personal note to show how you would value the connection of the people you are inviting to join your network.

Sample invitation:

You have outstanding credentials in terms of where you have worked and the type of responsibilities you have had. I would like to add you to my professional network.
Thank you.
Best regards,
Your Name


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