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In truth, it’s a lost art. Below are key observations for building meaningful relationships and accelerating your career the right way.

Strategic partnerships before friendships

This might sound cold and impersonal. In reality, it’s neither. It’s a valuable lesson that my first mentor tried to teach me in Manhattan. He told me, “The most fun people don’t always make the best co-workers. Always let someone’s work doing the talking.” Unfortunately, I didn’t truly comprehend the message until a few years later.

That’s when I received a promotion to the ranks of middle management. One of the co-workers who I occasionally joined for happy hour tried to use my promotion as his means for coasting through work. He started arriving late and leaving early. When we faced impromptu deadlines, he punted projects back to me or other managers. Eventually, it necessitated a face-to-face talk behind closed doors. All he could say was, “I thought we were friends.”

If he was my friend, he never would have put me in that position. It was unexpected and disappointing, but a lesson that I was glad to learn at the young age of 25.

Since then, I’ve gravitated towards people who, first and foremost, treat others with respect and believe in accountability. Working with these types of professionals on an ongoing basis has fostered the development of meaningful bonds that continue to blossom over time. These are the people that I’m proud to call friends.

Step away from the computer and the cell phone!

There’s a time and a place for e-mails and texts, but if you want to get ahead in your career, odds are it’s not going to happen if you spend the majority of your life hiding behind electronic gadgets. Although social media dominates much of our world today, there are still a good number of “old school” professionals who prefer a more personal approach. Below are a few examples worth considering:

  • Almost all of us have encountered this scenario – the mass e-mail that degenerates into finger-pointing with a long listed of people “cc’ed.” Instead of misperceiving tone (easy over e-mail) or adding to the drama, resolve any internal questions or problems by getting up from your desk and meeting with your co-workers. If necessary, reserve a conference room and get the team together. If face-to-face meetings aren’t practical, organize a conference call. Identify the issue, provide a platform for encouraging the team to contribute in a constructive manner, and resolve the conflict before it snowballs into something it shouldn’t.
  • Did management just reward you with a raise? Greet the generosity with a firm handshake, eye contact, and a genuine thank you.
  • Want to advance your career? Pave your own path. Put together a list of goals and accomplishments that you’re targeting for the next fiscal year. Include not only individual goals, but highlight ways in which you can help your team and the company succeed. Schedule a face-to-face meeting with your manager to discuss this list. Any quality manager will endorse such initiative and it might just fast track your career.

Help others

People rarely forget acts of kindness. It’s a simple concept, but sometimes simple can work wonders. These actions may include going above and beyond in mentoring staff or getting involved in projects in the local community. When you’re selfless in your actions, you might find that there are unintended benefits. Your peers are more likely to listen when you speak which might result in quality leads that open doors for new and exciting opportunities.

Written by Ray Petrino, founder of Hemera Financial Solutions, LLC, provider of part-time, interim, and contract CFOs, Controllers, and Directors to businesses of various sizes across diverse industries.