Part of the reason people tend not to think about building relationships for professional advancement is that the notion of having a relationship seems antithetical to “networking”. We have relationships with friends and family, they’re not our network. So a network is contrived and artificial.

Another reason people are deterred from building their professional relationships is that they perceive a network as a discrete outcome (a network), when it’s really a process (finding and giving support). But under this view anything that is a process is work, and the relationships we care about don’t seem like work, so a network can’t be something we really care about.

You can see how these are the same limitations that prevent people from learning to paint or finding an exercise routine. Someone contemplating learning to paint might think “I’m not really an artist – that’s a certain way of being. I’m just going through the motions, so what’s the point?” Or they could think “an artist is just really good at what they do, and it’s just not enjoyable unless you’re at that level of performance.”

Maybe you can anticipate the resolution. The solution, for those that are serious about this subject, is to be intentional about your relationships. That doesn’t just mean being a good listener or being strategic. It also means showing up, being consistent, following up. It also means enjoying the process. Treat it the same way you treated growing into your favorite hobby or habit. Don’t let yourself be deterred by limiting beliefs about what you can do with your network.