Professional Growth: Building Relationships, Not Just Connections

Building Relationships

No matter at what point you are in your career, moving up the ladder, or even just trying to get into a new career, success is determined by how skilled you are at building relationships, and not just building connections.

It is very easy these days to build a lot of connections, friends, fans, and followers on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google Plus, etc. It is also rather easy build good quality connections in a short period.

But one must always be asking themselves if these connections are actually good for advancing your career?

3 Ways to Professional Growth

Let’s have a look at three broad areas in which you can build your professional networks. These can also be extremely helpful in advancing your career and professional growth.

These broad areas are:

  • Quality vs. Quantity

  • Mentors vs. Colleagues

  • Networking vs. Chatting

Quality vs. Quantity

Quality RelationshipsI have almost 8000 connections on Linked In, there may be a good chance you are one of these people. But how many of these people do I really know and connect with on a regular basis?

To be honest,  not that many.

That is not to say I have not had at least one e-mail conversation with a great majority of them but there are probably only a couple of hundred people who I converse with on a regular basis.

In many ways business and finding a job can be seen in this category, so it is a real numbers game.

The more people you connect with the more likely you are to find people you resonate with.

The aim of the game is to find enough quality people to build a professional relationship with. Find people who are doing the sort of role you would like to be doing, or work for the company you would like to work for. Reach out and introduce yourself, connect, follow and ask questions.

Build the relationships as this is what will get you a job or promotion or anything you desire.

Mentors vs. Colleagues

When you are building your quality list of connections, look for people who can help you on the journey.

And keep an open eye for those you can serve along the way!

As mentioned above, people in the role you would like to have, or who work for a company you would like to work for. These are the sorts of people who can mentor you or give you the inside running on a job vacancy that may be coming up.

Don’t disregard your college mates or other work colleagues as one day they may be in the position of influence but build the relationship with the people who can help you right here, right now.

Networking vs. Chatting

It is very easy today to waste time chatting to your connections about the weather, the results of the weekend sports, family or any irrelevant small talk. Don’t get me wrong, this is important in building a solid relationship as you want the people you are connecting with to feel a genuine connection.

But too many times we waste time chatting about nothing and forget to ask simple questions that will help us to get to the crux of why we are networking.

Networking is probably the most important part of the job seeking process but it is one part that most people do not put time into. When I ran GISjobs Australia for over 10 years, I would say that less than 25% of all GIS industry roles were filled through advertising or through external recruitment agencies.

This means that most jobs are filled through word-of-mouth, well before they are advertised.

Make an effort to be involved in your local business and user groups, get know in your industry, be an active participant not just expecting things to flow to you without any effort.

So what are you doing to advance your networks in ways that actually help your career? Are you spending valuable time just chatting, or are you giving your efforts more professional purpose? What professional resources are you using, or are considering to help you build the right kind of connections? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Dean Howell
Dean Howell is Founder and CEO of 
GeoSpatial Connect
He connects GeoSpatial Industry Professionals across the Globe
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+Blog | Web | Skype:dean.howell1

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L2L Contributing Author


  1. clintondix on December 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Good post with a good perspective on why we have professional relationships. I would add another perspective: Impact vs. Gratification. Are our relationships allowing us to make a positive impact on other people (we can’t just think of leadership as a downward force, but also as a sideways and upward force), or do our relationships simply give us gratification for social interaction?

    Currently helping me in this area is a new book by Edgar Schein called Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling. I am digesting this book with two colleagues on our team. It gives a lot of insight into how to establish relationships that are deep, trusting, and conducive to learning.