When I moved to the Washington, D.C., area nearly three years ago, I underestimated how ubiquitous networking was here. This Town is notorious for encouraging meet-ups and subsequent interactions–both good and bad . From its countless Happy Hours to its various political functions, it takes the cake for networking. (D.C. should change its motto from “Justice for All” to “Network or Die!”) If this sounds scary, fear not–anyone can network. However, cultivating great connections or interpersonal relationships with others is what will set you apart in a place as swampy as Washington, D.C.
Are you meeting the right people to have as friends, colleagues, and possible romantic interests? Or are you surrounding yourself with people who are Debbie Downers, negative influences, or opportunists? If you fall into the latter camp, perhaps it’s wise to reevaluate who you associate with.
Like many other transplants, I was initially nervous about the prospect of making quality friends and forming good connections here in the nation’s capital. It’s natural to feel that way after you relocate here or learn about a city’s (i.e. Washington, D.C.) somewhat negative reputation. Admittedly, I wasn’t worried about meeting people; I was worried about meeting the wrong people. Thankfully, with maturity and good judgment, I didn’t succumb to serial networking with poor returns. (If I can do it, so can you!)
I’m currently reading Kimberly Guilfoyle’s new book Making The Case: How to Be Your Own Best Advocate and it illuminates this very concept about prioritizing connections over networking. Ms. Guilfoyle writes:
“…Don’t make everything about yourself. This is especially true as you try to build your sphere of influence. For instance, it is way more effective to really connect with others than to just network…Now whenever I meet someone of interest I save his information too. I don’t do this for career purposes only. I find that there are also personal advantages to meeting and staying in touch with a wide variety of people,” (98).
How many of you out there feel like your interpersonal relationships could fare better? Everyone longs for a solid network of friends and business associates–even substantive romantic relationships. With this predilection towards instant gratification today in all facets of life–instant success, instant love, instant praise, etc.–we lose sight of important things like prioritizing interpersonal connections.
A February 2013 Boston Globe article sheds more light on instant gratification:
The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives, and not just virtually. Retailers are jumping into same-day delivery services. Smartphone apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date, or a table at a hot restaurant. Movies and TV shows begin streaming in seconds. But experts caution that instant gratification comes at a price: It’s making us less patient.
As quick instances of networking becomes increasingly mundane, why not aspire to make deep connections with others? Here are several ways to achieve that:
1) Seek out people with common interests
When forging fulfilling relationships, seek out people who share common interests with you. Whether it’s shared political beliefs, similar hobbies, or common background(s), seek out those who you can relate with the most. For example, I gravitate towards people who are also politically conservative, love the outdoors, value hard work, exude intellect, love traveling, enjoy cooking/baking, and are freedom-minded. A lot of times there’s huge overlap. Occasionally someone who isn’t all that politically similar will come into the mix–there are few exceptions!–so don’t rule out those with slight differences. Additionally, seek out connections who will balance you out. Make sure your connections know when to relax and to refrain from politics when necessary. Seek out well-rounded people!
2) Add, don’t subtract, people from your group
One problem I notice here in D.C. is how people gravitate to cliques. (I suspect the same applies to most large cities.) If you’re not “cool” or have that “it” factor, you’re instantly shunned. (I thought cliques were a thing of the past, say, high school? Apparently I was wrong.) When in doubt, create your own group of friends. For instance, I love bringing different groups of friends together. I sense everyone will get along, share a laugh, and enjoy new company. (Yay good discernment and intuition!) Don’t shy away from adding more people to your ranks. You never know who’ll enter your circle of friends!
3) Connect with people who elevate you, not those who bring you down
Nothing is worse than surrounding yourself with unpleasant people who’ll bring you down. (We’ve all encountered these kinds of people.) If someone constantly criticizes you, demeans you, or belittles you, drop them. Constructive criticism is healthy; constant berating is not. Rest assured, friends and loved ones will look out for your best interests. Seek out those who’ll be a positive influence on you!
I hope this post will inspire you to make the most out of connecting with people.
Were my musings too much? Was I on point about forging connections? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!