Now that the economy’s percolating a bit, the “gotta meetcha” dance has begun.

Or maybe it’s the spring onslaught of SpeedWorking (our term for the job-search waltz), business card exchange, and other tangible symbols of networking.  Bernanke and other gurus, after all, predicted that many who stayed in jobs for security reasons would be poised to move at the first signs of recovery.   

No question, many career moves are predicated on relationships – and long-term ones, at that.  On the other hand, many false steps are made when applicants get in touch so they can tout they’ve met so-and-so, ask to be introduced to such-and-such, or have divined the department’s long-term mission and, yes, are ready and willing to help.

That kind of networking isn’t our definition of an authentic relationship.

While thinking about true relationships, we’ve been increasingly drawn to the social architecture of LinkedIn and its applications inside.  The site clearly says you’ve somehow got to be connected – as friend, colleague, classmate, or other bond.  Otherwise, your introduction will be second-hand, through the kindness of a [check one] friend, colleague, classmate.  It’s a good way to ensure there’s a mutual benefit to Linking In.

The same is true for work relationships.  Connections matter.  More, better work gets done faster, say experts, with emotional ties that bond.  Gallup states that one measure of engagement is having a best friend at work. 

Which is why it’s so curious that facts and statistics, not emotions, seem to dominate many internal messages.  Rarely, in our experience, have we seen the type of rallying cry that resonates with the hearts, not just minds, of employees.  If there is some sort of appeal, it’s short term, limited to a specific initiative or project.  There appears to be little need, at least right now, to appeal to employees’ EQ into the future.

Once the market truly begins to offer plenty of new positions, we’ll watch with much interest what happens inside companies.   Productivity is tied to performance, which, in turn, is linked in part to forming and expanding the network of business friends.  Building on those relationships demands we, as staff, as managers, as leaders, and as consultants, open up, connect, and communicate with credibility, with empathy. 

Otherwise, we become the weakest links.