Whatever we do, both in our personal and professional lives, our relationships stand as a cornerstone to help us grow. Relationships are what develop a successful business, allow friendships to happen, and quite frankly, that govern the world.
Let’s take a look at the following quote:
“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” – Anthony Robbins
In other words, our relationships are in some way a measure of how good our life will be. The question is, “Have we developed a network of people who have made us, and who have made us?”
Whether you answered yes or no to the question, the following five steps are important and necessary to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
1. Show-up – Not sure where I heard it, but someone once told me that 85-90% of building a relationship is just showing. This is called making ourselves vulnerable. It is asking you to put yourself in an unfamiliar position and get the most out of it. It is curious and asking questions. Make 100 cold calls that no one else is making. Knock on the doors to get answers. When someone asks you, be where you need to be. Meet someone and wish them all the best in shaking hands. If you cannot move through this first step, it will be difficult to go too far. Break through this barrier.
2. Listen more than you speak – There is a reason you have two ears and one mouth. Listen to what you hear, remember what you hear and remember what you hear. Dreaming about anything seems easy on its own but the conversation that is happening now. In sales, I’ve often heard the quote, “He loses what he speaks first.” In building relationships, have your needs and wants on the back burner. Learn to understand and listen to the needs of the other person and solve the problem together and build relationships.
3. Take real interest – learn to be ‘real’. People may indicate a false character. People can tell when you are being a Narcissist. Check your ego at the door and convey a genuine authenticity in growing something beyond any ulterior motives you have. Your goal should not be to make a sale, but to help alleviate a pain or problem that your customer may be experiencing. Your goal should not be in every last word, rather speaking less and listening more. Your goal should be to express concern and generate interest in the other person.
4. Bring something to the table – if you can’t bring value to the table then what is it for you or the other person? This is not to say that you are going to do X, Y and Z, but rather help by providing X, Y and Z when the time comes. You can have a shoulder to lean on in times of difficulty. You can find the product your customer needs when no other vendor can. When you are struggling, you can hold the other person responsible for reaching your goal. Above all, you are going to care and understand the person’s life. Find the common denominator and relate it to that person. Make them feel comfortable, and as a result, they will start sharing information you didn’t even ask for.
5. You should work on it – and by working, I mean harder, harder like everyday. Think about your longest friendship. If you are anything like me, it has taken years to build and is strengthening it to the point it is today. Don’t expect to show up at someone’s door and become the best bud after a 15-minute appointment. It does not work that way. It requires maintenance, it requires care, and it requires ongoing support. The moment you start turning to this person when all you need is a moment in which you have lost a relationship. I would not necessarily say ‘proceed with caution’, as much as I would say ‘proceed with care’. Be gentle and kind. Lastly, live up to your word and convictions.
Step five. Five simple, yet demanding steps. Five time-consuming steps. In five steps that will require daily efforts. And, to be quite honest, the irony about these five steps is that you will never reach the point when you stop using them. You will continue to implement the steps because a relationship is always under construction.
I will repeat that last statement. My relationship is always under construction. Dig deep as soon as you feel you have reached the end of a relationship. Return to step one and work through the five steps again.
You may ask, “So, which step is most important?” My answer – all of them. To set up anything with another person you should focus on each step. Not necessarily in the exact order, but at some time and every day of your life.
It is in the creation of others, that we begin to build in ourselves.