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Building Productive Relationships

Building Productive Relationships

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In recent years an increasing part of my practice has been working with individuals who have found that their approach to establishing and deepening personal and business relationships has suffered to the point that their career potential and enjoyment of life is being limited by the lack of an extended network of reliable and productive relationships.
In recent years an increasing part of my practice has been working with individuals who have found that their approach to establishing and deepening personal and business relationships has suffered to the point that their career potential and enjoyment of life is being limited by the lack of an extended network of reliable and productive relationships.

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Published by: Dr. Earl R. Smith II on Jul 06, 2008
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09/06/2012

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Building Productive Relationships
Dr. Earl R. Smith II DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com www.Dr-Smith.comIn recent years an increasing part of my practice hasbeen working with individuals who have found thattheir approach to establishing and deepeningpersonal and business relationships has suffered tothe point that their career potential and enjoyment of life is being limited by the lack of an extendednetwork of reliable and productive relationships. The proliferation of networking organizations andevents seems to have supported a tendency towardswhat I call ‘shallow-waterassociations. Many of my clients havedeveloped a very wide range of these associations. But many of themseem to be having the same experience. Although they have thisrange of connections, few if any of them are producing productiveresults. In fact, most of these associations seem to quickly reach aplateau and then level off into unproductivity.In response to these challenges I have developed a systematicapproach realigning those tendencies and to help my clients changetheir approach - to begin developing the kinds of long-term businessand personal relationships which will help them progress in theirbusiness career and to enjoy life more completely. My approachrequires a significant and serious commitment on the client. The habitsare very hard to break. It seems that the addiction to these shallow-water relationships is nearly as difficult to break as the addiction tosmoking.An unavoidable fact is that human beings are more successful as socialanimals than they are as rugged individualists. And, although this hasalways been true, the advances of the internet, virtual relationships,casual connections, easily maintained anonymity, artificially producedand promulgated avatars and the seduction of networking has createdthe apparent ability to forgo the time and effort required to developthese deeper relationships in favor of the less productive types. Likemost addictions, this one is about avoidance rather than advancement.I used the word addiction purposefully because I have come to realizethat that is precisely what it amounts to. The seductiveness of theentire idea that networking is an effective way to build productiverelationships is the principal reason that most individuals findthemselves in a situation where they have few friends and a wide
 
range of mostly distant contacts. Taken to the extreme, the supernetworkers often brag about having thousands of connections. Theidea that ‘more is more’ seems to be the dominant theme. But a closeexamination of their experiences often demonstrates that the excesseswhich result from using networking as the primary approach todeveloping a range of productive relationships is, in fact, highlycorrosive to the ability to establish healthy ones and severely limitingof future possibilities.As with most addictions, the road to recovery is neither easy nor short. There seems to be a several reasons why this is the case. Mostly theyseem to relate to the vision of the other person which is cultivated byintensive involvement in networking. ‘Professional networkers’ seem togo through people like a bag of potato chips - with much the sameresidual benefits. From the outside, their approach smacks strongly of denigration bordering on abuse.When a client has come to the point where they realize that they havea problem and are ready to break the addiction, the real effort canbegin. The process starts with a focus on the behaviors and valueswhich they have adopted in order to be a ‘successful’ networker. Justreaching the point where the client understands the implications andimpact of their own behaviors towards other people an opportunity is,in the end of itself, a difficult and perilous journey - one that takes agreat deal of courage and self-knowledge.“It’s just so damned easy to have a drink with somebody and think, asa result, that I know them and that we have established the basis for aproductive relationship,” a client recently told me. In fact one of themore insidious implications of networking is the assumption that it iseasy develop solid relationships - productive relationships - by simply‘networking’.My experience has been that most people who are addicted tonetworking are really not seeking those types of relationships anyway -at least not through networking. For the most part they simply seem tobe looking for some people to ‘talk to’. Although networkingorganizations may be ostensibly about building business relationships,for instance, it doesn’t take much time at one of the events to realizethat most of the interactions are primarily a social. I believe there’s agood reason for this. Networking is better for developing shallow socialassociations than it is for developing productive business relationships. The frequent use of avatars at networking events complicates theprocess. In this case I am using a term to describe the syntheticrealities which many individuals promulgate doing the events. All of us

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