By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Last week at the NACAC National Conference in Houston an overwhelming theme was the power of networking and relationships, and how much connections with people who share a similar drive, passion, and vision matter.
Building better relationships both personally and professionally not only allows for growth, but it can make things you’re not even considering possible.
Here’s the thing. I believe there’s a difference between networking and building real relationships, and it’s important that we all understand the difference.
Networking is meeting new people (short term) at a conference or on the road during fall travel season with fellow admissions professionals or even high school counselors. You talk mostly about work.
Real relationship building is investing in people and friendships in an intentional way (long term). You don’t just talk about work, you get to know the other person (their goals, wants, needs, fears, interests, etc).
A lot of people network. I want to encourage you to build more real relationships, which might feel like a challenge, and that’s okay.
Maybe you’re worried because you’re an introvert. Maybe you feel like if you invest in some people you’ll come across as weird or too forward. Maybe you just need more time. Those are all valid things, but I would also argue they’re things that hold a lot of people back from building better relationships that allow you to be the best you, to have that support system when you really need it, and to achieve personal and/or professional goals.
Here are six quick tips that can help you build better relationships:
- It takes time, you can’t rush it.
- Intentionality always matters.
- Be genuine. Don’t pretend to be interested and excited because you want or need something from the other person.
- Be a great listener, which means being an active listener.
- Consistency matters, You can’t just reach out when you need something.
- It has to be a mutual investment from both sides.
There are no shortcuts to building real relationships, so enjoy the process with your colleagues, peers, prospective students and families, and others.
If you went to NACAC, I encourage you to reach out in the next few days to one or more people that you met. Tell them that you enjoyed and appreciated speaking with them, and that you’d like to connect again this fall and hear how they’re doing.
If you didn’t go to NACAC because you’ve being traveling off campus doing high school visits and college fairs, do the same thing with a high school counselor or someone else you’ve met during your travels.
And if you didn’t go to NACAC and you haven’t traveled off campus, do the same thing with someone else on your campus, or with someone who isn’t a colleague that you’d like to build a relationship with.
While you’re building those relationships, don’t ever forget that how you build your relationships is more important than how many relationships you build.
If you’d like to talk more about this article or start building a relationship with me, go ahead and reply back or email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, I encourage you to forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.