Some people think of their professional relationships as purely transactional–just dollars, signatures, and the occasional coffee break to talk more business.

It’s certainly true that not everyone you work with will become your best buddy, but I’ve come to appreciate that so much of my business success comes down to taking ‘social capital’ seriously.

When I work with someone, I see them as more than just a business partner–they’re people, too! I try to foster a deeper relationship of giving, receiving, supporting, encouraging, and asking.

Friendship can make business not only much easier, but also more fun.  One of the reasons I show up to work every day is because my clients and colleagues have become some of my closest friends and confidants. Many of them are like family members to me. Some of them are literally known to my kids as ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’.

I didn’t enter the business world with a lot of formal education. But I took my relationships seriously, building each one on a foundation of trust, authenticity, and accountability. And it’s paid off.

When my brother died, more than one of my longtime business partners came to his funeral. Because we’re all there for each other—inside and outside the office. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How can you network during your entrepreneurial journey? The good news is there are easy steps you can take to show others that you’re worth becoming part of their network. For instance, ask a higher-up you know for a coffee–your treat. Truth is, established professionals love to take an apprentice under their wing. Just show them that you have the work ethic needed to succeed.

Once you’ve established professional relationships, the next step is to deepen them by personalizing them–as I’ve done. Don’t look at your colleagues, mentors, and employees as means to an end. They’re people, and you’d do well to be by their side when they need you-–not just in business, but in life. The beauty of this approach is that your business pursuits will benefit, too! And along the way, you’ll earn the experience of working with colleagues you’ll be proud to call friends.

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