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A Network of Friends

This December, while teaching my Careers Strategy students about networking as an adjunct professor at Parsons New School, I asked them, “What Makes Work Fun?” In my lecture, I told them that most people view networking as a business task and a necessary evil. But in reality, if you approach and treat people properly, your business world can become your world of friends as well. It’s a simple matter of taking the time to recognize the people with whom you work as unique and important individuals. It’s human nature to choose people you know and trust, and in fact research shows that people do this when hiring, choosing vendors, partners, services etc…. So in business, networking is essential. But beyond that when you make it a point to get to know those with whom you interact, you can transform your business world as well and work becomes fun when those with whom you work become your friends.

As I reflect on 2010, I realize how over time I have found great friends in the clients and candidates we know, regardless of whether we're working together or not. On the client side, I have such an appreciation for all the people with whom I engage in companies, from the HR and hiring managers, to the secretaries, bookkeepers, and assistants. As a business owner, I value the vendors and people with whom we work to keep our business running: our web and branding consultant, our tech guru, our bookkeeper and accountant, to name a few.

Finances are not my forte, but finding an accountant and bookkeeper I trust unequivocally AND enjoy working with has made handling these tasks practically enjoyable. When you find great people appropriately skilled for your business needs, whose values and work styles resonate with your own, work becomes almost effortless and enjoyable.

People want to matter, but the world at large feels so impersonal. People don't expect to be recognized or acknowledged as individuals. I make it a point to notice people as much as I can when I interact with them, no matter how brief or incidental our time together may seem. I greet my bus driver, dry cleaner attendant, deli cashier, mail carrier, and bank teller by name if possible, and inquire about their day, and I don't forget the people who support the people with whom I work, including my doctor's secretary and my client's assistant. I love the startled looks and smiles I get when people realize I really see them. It's a great feeling to make someone’s day by acknowledging them unexpectedly, and it can make my day.

When you respect and acknowledge people, they become more than just acquaintances. They truly become your network of friends, which improves your quality of life and makes the world and your experience in it more enjoyable