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Building Relationships

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Board Corner by Sarah Tucker

Senior Business Development Executive at Jelecos

I moved to Omaha in 2010 knowing absolutely no one except the boss that interviewed me at the advertising agency for which I was moving to Omaha. And I had only spent about 45 minutes with her. As I was saying good-bye to my life and friends in Kentucky I vowed to rebuild my personal network – quickly. Those friends meant the world to me. My biggest trepidation about moving was missing that feeling of belonging to a group of people who loved me. Having people around me to support and lift me up, in return, gives life meaning, purpose, variety and spice!

I am a natural social butterfly, never afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. However, building a strong network isn’t as easy as striking up a conversation. I realized it is not so simple to extend that initial conversation into an actual relationship.

Human beings are intimidating. It’s risky to put yourself out there. What if you run out of things to say? What if you embarrass yourself? What if they have no room for you? People are judgmental. Adult cliques and groups do exist, especially in tight knit communities. Our town, Omaha, isn’t what we’d call a transient community. Not a lot of people move here and stay – they are born and raised Nebraskans.

This gives these people a shared history advantage. They went to college together – or if they didn’t they are familiar with that school and have friends who went there. This familiarity provides a launch pad for a relationship– one that I don’t have with anyone here. I went to high school in Mount Sterling, KY. A town most Omahans have never heard of; they can’t relate. College? A small school in the hills of Kentucky, Morehead State. No common ground here.

So, how do you rise above the unknown that is you when you don’t share a common geography? What is the quickest way to build that shared history? Is it really important in building relationships?

My first step was to get active on Twitter. You can find me @tuckersarah. Social Media is a low-risk way to find others who have common interests or beliefs. Twitter allows one to slowly get to know another and not be concerned about rejection.

Attend networking events, regularly. You likely won’t meet your new best friend the first time you put yourself out there. Make your face familiar to people, smile. Ask tons of questions. The Greater Omaha Young Professionals sponsor events every single month, which is the perfect platform to get started.

Get gutsy and extend the first invitation. Once you have begun a familiarity, meet up your new acquaintance for coffee or lunch. A one-on-one setting allows you to actually get to know one another. Once you have that first meet-up you are well on your way to building new friendships and lasting relationships.

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