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3 classic and easily avoidable relationship building mistakes artists make

Dec 8, 2014

Classic and easily avoidable relationship building mistakes

As I build my career and make connections and inroads I remember that the relationships I form are my most valuable personal and professional asset. My relationships keep me connected to my community, my work, and myself.

There is a difference between networking and relationship building. In this context networking means making business connections, and relationship building is making a heartfelt human connection. Although there can be overlap, the latter is far and away more important and more rewarding.

Here are three things to keep you from getting lost

1. Be interested, not interesting

When I’m at a function, I can look for who to meet and let them know about my work, or I can find out more about the person with whom I’m speaking. It is more important to be interested…not interesting. It can be disengaging to listen to someone try to impress you with their work and with their accomplishments. Maybe it feels disingenuous? Instead find out about the people around you and make a real connection by being interested.

I was reading Bruce Harpham’s article, Classic Networking Mistakes: Are You Taking Too Much?, this week and it made this important point:

In some circles, networking has a bad name. You’ve all seen the type – the aggressive person who distributes business cards and promotes their agenda to the exclusion of any other concern. “The most common mistake I see networkers make is focusing too much energy on taking and selling. I spent 10 minutes with one person who always kept bringing the conversation back to the course he was selling next month. It was clear he wanted me to take his course and he didn't ask me any questions about myself,” Bobby shared in an interview. Networking can lead to sales, but that should not be your exclusive focus. Instead, take a long term view of the relationships you build through networking. The person you meet today might become a customer six months from now. They might introduce you to someone else or recommend a book to help you overcome a challenge. Successful networking interactions are interactive. Imagine an effective conversation as a tennis match – there is a natural give and take.


3quarksdaily published 7 Habits of Highly Defective People by Daniel Tomasulo from AlterNet: Tomasulo writes these compelling graphs:

Me, me, me.

This is the one person defective people love to talk about. In the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Research in Personality, German researchers discovered that people who refer to themselves more often by using first-person singular pronouns like “I,” “me,” and “myself” are more likely to be depressed than participants who used more pronouns like “we” and “us.” The researchers studied 103 women and 15 men using psychotherapeutic interviews followed by questionnaires about depression. They found that participants who said more first-personal singular words were more depressed.

But wait — there’s more. They were also more likely to be difficult in other ways. They inappropriately self-disclose, constantly seek attention, and have difficulty being alone. (Maybe they don’t like the company.)


Shelly Gable and her colleagues are relationship scientists who study the patterns of communication between people. They’ve found that only supportive, encouraging comments celebrating the good news of others is what makes for a solid relationship. They call this active-constructive responding (ACR).

2. Leave things better than you found them.

My daddy always taught me to leave things better than I found them. I try to do this in all things, whether that’s physically, or energetically. When I am building relationships, I try to leave things better than when the interaction began. When you’re focused on being interested, (instead of interesting), it’s not difficult to leave things better than you found them.


3. Show appreciation

If you appreciate what someone is doing for you when they are being kind, or generous with their introductions, connections, efforts, make sure you find a way to let them know you. Don’t take for granted that what they’re doing is a small or easy thing for them. What’s small and easy for you may not be for the person who is extending themselves on your behalf.

There are many ways to express appreciation. If you incorporate the idea of leaving things better than you found them with the idea of appreciation, you’ll find a multitude of opportunities. Here are but a few: be respectful of the person’s time. If you stop for a bite to eat together, you can offer to pay their share, or take care of the tip, or buy them a drink. If they make introductions for you and say something kind about you, you can take that in and then look for an opportunity to steer the conversation back to them. If you see someone you know you can reciprocate the introductions. It doesn’t make you look bad or takes away anything from you to introduce the people you’re with to the people you know. But it does make you look like an opportunistic schmuck not to extend that invitation.

You can’t go wrong if you remember these three simple guidelines to for career-building:

  1. Be interested….not interesting
  2. Leave things better than you found them
  3. Show appreciation






Tags: Art Business
Category: How to
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