Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Three Ps of Building Lasting and Meaningful Relationships

Photo: Ben Heine
“No road is long with good company” – Turkish Proverb

To some folks, the importance of connecting with people is readily apparent. They instinctively act to create relationships that will last a lifetime. To others, creating such connections is neither obvious nor interesting. They mind their business, tending to the relationships they already have, rarely initiating new ones.

I like to think that I am a relationship builder. This may be my strongest trait. I’m super passionate about building relationships and keeping my connections tight. Ultimately, the people with whom I have relationships make my world go round.

I have contemporaries who certainly have bigger networks than I do. They effortlessly move around town, working any given crowd on any given evening. I’m not that guy, nor would I be. It’s not my style.

My MO is different, centered on the tried and true: quality over quantity.

What I do is work to nurture my existing relationships, while reaching beyond my comfort zone to form new ones when I can. Not hurried, but methodological.

I don’t waste my time networking without reason. I like to get to know a person well enough to understand how I might be able to help him or her, and vice versa.

This may sound direct, but it’s the truth, and why waste anyone’s time? A shotgun approach to networking is fine if you’re looking for free food and drink, but building lasting relationships with purpose is where the value lies.

I'm proud of my relationships, because they take effort to develop. I protect them, because they are genuine and established with trust.

Over time, I’ve built an active and diverse set of connections. They are arguably my most valuable asset. There is no science behind this build-up. Simply put, it is taking the time to get to know people. There is an art form, however, in knowing how to bring your connections to bear, making them count when the time is right.

How I build lasting and meaningful relationship can be framed into three Ps:

1. Positive. In everything I do, this blog included, I try to be upbeat and maintain a positive view of the world. This is my rule number one, which becomes incredibly important when building and nurturing relationships. Who wants to hang with Negative Nancy? I know I don’t. If people see that you’re happy, you've taken the first step to attract them into your sphere of influence. Now smile.

2. Purposeful. You must want to build relationships. If you have the bug, then the rest is easy. Building relationships is something I love to do. Early in life, I was less targeted in how I did so. There was nothing harmful about this approach, but while my intentions were good my execution was not. I met a lot of people, but the relationships, because there was often no inherent reason to form them, didn’t last. They yielded less value for me and others. These days, as my purpose becomes clearer to me in the context of my career and life pursuits, the meaning behind my relationships does as well. This bodes well for me and my contacts.

3. Personal. Definitely. Although I’m a notoriously late adopter of the latest and greatest technology, I do like and attempt to understand it as much as the next guy. I believe that technology is a net benefit to humankind, and there is no exception when it comes to building and maintaining relationships. However, to build deep relationships, technology is not the only facilitator. It is less personal than face-to-face interaction. Sure, I can catch you and half the working world online via instant message if I really want to. But I’d prefer to have coffee with you in a comfortable setting to understand how your and my missions can get aligned.

Meaningful relationships are built to last, and one CEO says they can take two to three years to develop before bearing fruit. I cherish my relationships. I look forward to nurturing them for years to come, and to forging new ones.

How do you view your relationships? Are you sizing them up wisely, asking, am I perceived as a positive person? Am I networking purposefully? Am I personally interacting with people, or am I doing so via the latest application?

Whatever your answers, consider connecting with others in a more lasting and meaningful way.