We all know that quite often in today’s world it’s not necessarily what you know, but rather who you know that helps you to forge ahead.

As people it’s a fact that we cannot function alone; we need other people all the time. Truth is, there is no real independence for humans. And as PR practitioners, relationships are all the more critical to us, as they are at the very core of what we do, how we do it and how successful it becomes. Great networks with media, colleagues, clients and suppliers don’t just fall from trees and you can’t buy them or find them on LinkedIn. So, to build the best network, especially in this industry (or well anywhere, really), developing meaningful relationships is an absolute must.

And here are five obvious – but often-ignored – habits that should be cultivated to help reach this objective :

1. Be giving
Ever heard of saying, “give a little more than you can take”?
Well, the finest relationships are built on a mutual desire to give value to the other person. When both parties focus more on giving than receiving, it nurtures a genuine bond, one that goes deeper than the value of the exchange. That bond is based on mutual trust that each of you wants what is best for the other.

And generosity takes many forms – .it can be as easy as making an introduction, lending an ear, or giving the gift of your expertise.

2. Shhh… and listen
Everyone wants to be heard and understood, which is why listening is the foundation of any meaningful relationship. Authentic listening (not just listening to respond!) signals that you’re genuinely interested in the other person and what he or she has to say. Part of being a good listener is developing self-awareness and noticing if you’re truly engaged in the conversation.

Important: one of the easiest and fastest ways to be a better listener is to stop interrupting!

3. Be accountable and considerate of others
Always acknowledge when you have made a mistake, apologise for it, and learn from it. This is how we grow as humans, especially in relationships. It doesn’t only mend things, but it also makes you more conscious of your behaviour around others as you actively trying not to repeat the same mistakes.

4. Acknowledge accomplishments
Part of developing strong friendships is recognising the accomplishments of your friends and peers. Become their biggest fan, especially when they announce big news. Even something as simple as a quick “congratulations” on social media can show others that their accomplishments don’t go unnoticed. Of course, a phone call or in-person is an even better option.

5. Quality over quantity
Successful people focus on developing a few key relationships, rather than spreading their time across as many people as possible. Quickly adding more connections might make you feel more productive – and possibly very popular – but the best networks are created through depth, not breadth.
Significant, purposeful relationships are built with intention, sincerity, honesty, and generosity over a long time. There are no shortcuts.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to build a network that not only fuels your PR professional success but also adds happiness to your life in general!