You’re at a networking event, having an amazing conversation with a peer. At the end of the event, you awkwardly stand there, staring at each other. You wonder, should I make the first move? Is that too forward? I really want to give her my card, but maybe she isn’t interested in seeing me ever again!
Building relationships with new colleagues can be just as awkward as a first date! It can feel weird to ask someone to be your friend; especially if you work together. When you’re comfortable being colleagues, how can you cross over into a friendship?
Here are some genuine tips on how to develop relationships that don’t feel SUPER awkward and will help you in life and in your biz!
1. Reach out
You have a business crush on another lady boss. She’s got something you don’t. Whether it’s the business savvy or the swagger and stage presence. She has a beautiful instagram feed and in all the things she puts out, you can tell she’s really sharp and you just admire the hell out of her. Stop being a lurker. Reach out and tell her you admire her! You might not end up business BFF but you certainly have the power to make somebody’s day! In contacting her, you might end up with the courage to suggest a chat so you can learn about her business and if she’s as nice as you think, she’ll want to get to know you too!
2. Provide friend “value”
There are so many phony people out there so we can all be a little skeptical. It’s important when you’re reaching out to somebody to notice your intentions. Don’t go in hoping that this person will shout you out on social media to boost your following. That’s totally disingenuous. Get on the phone or meet up for a coffee date and really get to know them. Ask questions because you’re truly curious. And remember to listen to her responses. Ask about her puppy or where she met her husband. Ask her about the path that’s brought her to where she is now. Ask what she’s learned through her entrepreneurial journey and what she’s up to and excited about right now! Ask from a place of genuine curiosity and not from a sketchy, ‘I’m going to use this information for weird things,’ way.
3. Be a friend
IRL friends are there, in the flesh, to celebrate the happy times and offer a shoulder during the bad times. Ask your new biz friend if there’s anything you can be helpful in supporting her in the near future. Whether it’s having a set of eyes on a project, giving a shout out in a facebook group, or suggesting a collaborator for a new project, we all need people in our corner and it’s great to know that we have friends looking out for us. So, before you expect anything, give, give, give!
4. Acknowledge and champion!
The skill of acknowledgement is a a POWERFUL tool to have in your pocket. It’s the act of noticing, accepting its existence, and then verbalizing those thoughts… out loud. For example, you notice that a friend has experienced some trauma. I notice that our go-to responses tend to be, “You’ll be in my thoughts” or “I’m here if you need anything.” While these responses are helpful and compassionate, it can also comfort your friend to acknowledge her in that exact moment. An acknowledgement is short and it starts with the words, “you are ___.” In this situation, you can say something like, “wow, you’re really brave.” Just by vocalizing what you’re seeing, you’re giving power to actions that she might not even realize and brings forth some powerful emotions. In the same vein, if somebody is being extremely vulnerable or needs a little extra emotional support, don’t be afraid to be her champion Tell her, what you know to be true about her. At her best, she’s _____. Tell her what she’s taught you and give her evidence. When you champion her, you’re being the extra layer of confidence that she might need to get through that moment.
Collaboration is a great way to share gifts and talents with others. Another bonus is that your audience gets to meet your friend and your friend’s audience gets to meet you. Brainstorm ideas about how to collaborate and figure out what would make sense for you and your buddy! What campaigns or projects would make sense for the two of you? Is the project in alignment with what your audience expects from you? Would the work be balanced for you and your partner? Will it be fun for the two of you?
WHY RELATIONSHIPS MATTER
We’re not meant to be hermits. Especially you, lovely entrepreneur. Even when we’re working alone at our computer inside our very quiet home, we’re not meant to be isolated. Relationships can change the way you work and the way you feel about your entrepreneurial path. When you build deep connections with others in your community, you feel like you have people who are looking out for you. You have people who are willing to go to bat for you. You have people who want to dig you out of your funk when you don’t know how to do it for yourself. They’re the ones who understand this journey you’re on; sometimes more so than your own partner and family. They’re the ones who lift us up and put that pep in our step! Finding people to be part of your tribe is the quickest way to feel that exciting feeling of loving where you work and not just what you do for work. Lonely sucks and you don’t have to be lonely.
For you, yes you, the one reading this saying, I need to do this!! Don’t close the screen and slump back into your chair. Send that email that you’re too shy to send. Just do it!
And do tell: What are ways you like to build friendships with other bosses? What has worked for you? When you look for a boss friend, what do you look for? Let me know in the comments below!