Relationships tend to be among those things we take for granted. We rarely consider them organizational or personal assets. But one could argue that they may be more worthwhile than those myriad of other things that we focus on. The reality is that relationships are crucial to our success and deserve some attention and planning too. I received a reminder of this when I got an email from a friend based on a blog about Reid Hoffman, “Do THIS In the Next Day, Week, and Month for a Stronger Network”. I agree with many of his suggestions so I’m including them here—but with a bit of Jerry Acuff added in.
What I like about Hoffman’s recommendations is that he combines two important elements of planning for success—(1) being proactive and (2) relationship development. He also ventures outside the realm of business relationships. Hoffman’s first suggestion is to identify those people who you spend most of your time with. For many, these may be business colleagues for we do spend an inordinate amount of time at work. But for others, it may be those personal relationships that dominate their thoughts. First identify and then analyze those people that you not only spend time with but influence you the most during the past 6 months. Then examine if these are positive relationships. By that I mean do they give you what you need? Are they supportive of your endeavors—or do they try to hold you back? Only you can decide if these relationships should continue to develop as they have been.
The next suggestion builds on relationship mapping—identifying those people who are crucial to your success. Hoffman recommends that you identify two people that you know who don’t know each other that if they did, would likely find it mutually beneficial. And then make plans to introduce them. A corollary to this is asking someone you know to introduce you to someone you want to meet. We call this pyramid hopping—and it is one of the more effective ways to jump a few steps in the relationship development process.
The final recommendation that Hoffman makes that I feel is worth mentioning focuses more on being proactive. I like this idea for often we don’t take the time to do this and if we let too much time slip by, it can become more awkward. For example, imagine you just lost your job—who would you contact for help? Hoffman recommends contacting those people now. This idea appeals to me for we reap what we sow. It never hurts to keep in touch and contact someone out of the blue. And it is nice to be contacted just to say hello and see how you are doing. We probably all have those “friends” who seem to remember us only when they are in need. This may serve as an opportune reminder to reach out to those that you’ve been neglecting to talk to for awhile and reconnect. Besides, you don’t know if they are in a position where you could help them—and wouldn’t that be rewarding?
You alone are responsible for the relationships in your life. I discussed this in my blog a few months ago (Responsibility for Developing Business Relationships). Let this blog serve as a reminder to reach out to those folks who haven’t heard from you in awhile. And it won’t hurt to think strategically and make some plans on how to further develop those relationships—and new ones. You never know where those connections can lead—but without them, your success in life is not that assured or as rewarding.