The Relationology Masterclass had been delivered about three weeks prior and that afternoon I received a telephone call from one of the participants. I could immediately tell that he had some good news, he spoke quickly and his voice was full of excitement.
During the Masterclass I had encouraged participants that they could meet anyone they wanted to meet and invited them to write a ‘wish list’ of people they would like to meet one day. The participant was telephoning to tell me the person he had written at the top of his wish list was Seth Godin the blogger and innovation guru. He relayed how the week after the Masterclass he saw a competition and the prize of which was a day with Seth. He told himself he could never win the prize and then remembered what I had taught so he entered the competition. He was telephoning that afternoon to say he had won and was booking a flight to New York to visit Seth Godin!
It’s a rule of nature that we travel in the direction that we are looking. We’ve all had those moments at the wheel of a car when something distracts us at the road side and when we look back we find the car has begun to change direction. So where are you looking in your relationships? Unless we aim at something we are unlikely to hit it. Relationships are too important to leave to chance, they determine our life happiness, social impact and business success, so how are you proactive? Personally I use a strategy to help me be deliberate and intentional about building relationships.
The first step of my strategy is to collect relationships. We have already looked at referrals as a powerful way of collecting relationships. Then there is the crowded room event full of ‘networkers’ who love it, survivors who have learnt to manage in these settings and then there are those who would simply rather be elsewhere. My own approach is to take the pressure off the need to meet lots of people I simply set myself the target of meeting one person with whom I have a connection and follow through with. The other way to collect relationships is through social media which is a whole other story.
The second step of my strategy is to keep relationships. The most important thing to do when you’ve connected with someone for the first time or you see them regularly is to follow through. Unless you plan to follow through you quite simply plan to fail, you may as well have stayed home and saved yourself all the trouble. Once you’re connected to someone it’s important to build rapport, to find some things that you talk about and track with each other about. They don’t have to be world changing but it helps if they are meaningful to you both.
The third step of my strategy is to grow relationships. With a minority of people you become what is described as ‘fast friends’ which is an experience when you build rapport and trust with someone very quickly or certainly more quickly than you normally do. In the majority of relationships it takes an investment of time, energy and resources to build interpersonal rapport and trust. Trust that is based on your competency and consistency and trust that is based upon the level of interpersonal chemistry and genuine care about the other person and not just what they can do for you.
It has been said that 95% of people are imitators and 5% of people are initiators. So in your relationships are you an imitator or an initiator?
You can choose to differentiate yourself from the crowd by deciding to be proactive. Initiators make the first move, they introduce themselves, they make the telephone call, they request a meeting, they don’t take no personally and they reach out till they succeed. The fourth behaviour of highly effective relationship builders is to be proactive rather than reactive.