The purpose of building relationships if to provide connections between your team and something your team needs. You want the professional relationships you create to last beyond your current production. You want to network to build your professional connections. These people are acquaintances you meet with looking for materials, information or employees.
Be aware of the power structure within your organization and the organizations you are networking with. Who has the power, access and knowledge to privileged information and how to use it. Your colleagues and collaborators are not perfect people they may or may not want to trade information, equipment or materials. Listen carefully to learn if they are sharing, trading or politicking with you. There is always power involved.
Be responsible with your connections. Once you meet someone be sure to maintain that relationship by being polite and listening to them. When possible research them before your first introduction. Maintain a list of who people are where you met them. What their expertise is and how it fits in with your project. Create a specific line of communication with them. Be transparent when possible. A miscommunication can be easily misconstrued as a lie. Be prepared for the long haul.
Who should you get along with?
A manager needs to get along with everyone. This does not mean they are you friend. A good manager is collegial with everyone they meet. They are able to distinguish allies from acquaintances. Allies can help you with current projects and support you with your tasks. Managers will meet people who become role models. They can help guide you in future endeavors. Allies and role models are collaborators. A manager who builds a infrastructure of trust, is transparent with sharing ideas and knowledge and is respectful will have a good foundation for a career.
Inside your team
To maintain professional relationships, communicate, praise your colleagues. Take the time to meet them on their own turf. Be fair, honest and respectful with them. They will give back in equal quantities. Within your team you will need to learn and understand the artistic director, director, stage managers, designer, shop supervisors and stagehands. Be aware of who they are and how they earned their current position. As you your up the ladder you may meet and work with board members. Research who they are and why your board is important to them. They usually have their own goals for why they accepted the position.
Outside your team
You will be meeting people who are freelancers, venders or manufacturers of materials you purchase. They all have reason to be one of your connections. Speed of material to market. Repair of a broken piece of equipment. Expertise in using or maintaining equipment. All of these people are a phone call away when you need them.
To keep all your connections healthy be sure to always use the words please and thank you in your communications. Find a value of that person. Never waste their time; never meet with out an agenda. Never turn a professional relationship into a personnel relationship.
Go back to black board and take the relationships quiz