This blog was also published as a YP Board Corner here: http://omahayp.org/news/building-relationships/
I moved to Omaha in 2010 knowing absolutely no one except the boss that interviewed me at the agency. And I’d only spent about 45 minutes with her. As I was saying good-bye to my life & friends in Kentucky I vowed to rebuild my personal network. Quickly. These women meant the world to me. My biggest trepidation about moving was missing that feeling of belonging because to a group of women who loved me.
Having people around me to support me and to lift up in return helps to give life meaning. Purpose. Variety & spice!
I am a natural social butterfly, never afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But, building a strong network isn’t as easy as striking up a conversation. I realized its not so simple to extend that initial conversation into an actual relationship.
Human beings are intimidating. It’s risky to put yourself out there. What if you run out of things to say? What if you embarrass yourself? What if they have no room for you?
People are judgemental. Adult cliques and groups do exist, especially in tight knit communities.
Our town, Omaha, isn’t what we’d call a transient community. Not a lot of people move here and stay – they are born & raised Nebraskans.
This gives these people a shared history advantage. They went to college together – or if they didn’t they are familiar with that school and have friends who went there. This familiarity provides a launch pad for a relationship. One that I don’t have with anyone here.
I went to high school in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. A town most Omahan’s have never heard of. They can’t relate.
College? A small school in the hills of Kentucky, Morehead State. No common ground here.
So, how do you rise above the unknown that is you when you didn’t share a geography? What is the quickest way to build that shared history? Is it really important in building relationships?
My first step was to get active on Twitter. You can find me @tuckersarah. Social Media is a low-risk way to find others who have common interests or beliefs. I can slowly get to know someone and not be concerned about rejection.
Attend networking events, regularly. You likely won’t meet your new best friend the first time you put yourself out there. Make your face familiar to people, smile. Ask tons of questions.
Get gutsy and extend the first invitation. Once you have begun a familiarity, meet up your new acquaintance for coffee or lunch. A one-on-one setting allows you to actually get to know one another. Once you have that first meet-up you are well on your way to building new friendships and lasting relationships.