People with strong relationships are healthier, happier and more likely to perform at their peak to earn more money and achieve greater levels of success. But while all relationships are important, they are not all equal. Simply put, some relationships are more strategic than others.
However, the idea of a “relationship-building game” makes some people uncomfortable. They think that relationships should happen organically, without deliberate thought and planning. It is why many people do a better job mapping out a vacation than they do thinking about how to build the strategic relationships that will make them successful.
As you take stock of your connections, ask yourself the following four questions:
1) Is everyone like you? It is human nature to gravitate to people who look, act and think like you. But if all your connections work in the same industry, are the same age or race, or attended the same schools—it is time to diversify.
To benefit from a deep and rich network of connections, you must step outside your comfort zone. In relationships as in life, diversity is the key to success. Diversity leads to new ideas, opportunities and friendships.
2) Is your list light on movers and shakers? You cannot achieve ambitious goals without people who have the experience, insights, contacts and resources to help you get there. Identify any mentors and role models you want to get to know better and reach out to them. One way to do this is to ask people in your social circles questions like, “Who do I need to know?” and “Can you introduce us?” The best way to make a connection is through a connection.
3) Did you exclude people because you thought you had nothing in common? Research shows that the weakest ties often lead to the greatest opportunities because they lift you out of your current patterns of behavior.
Admittedly, the pandemic has made it difficult to build relationships outside of one’s immediate network of family and friends. However, as you resume more pre-pandemic activities, you have an opportunity to reconsider—and appreciate—the joys and benefits that come from the people who make up your “outer circles.”
4) Are certain relationships holding you back? It is not easy to admit that there are some relationships that no longer align with your goals, objectives or values. To quote the American entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” That doesn’t mean you have to cut people out of your life entirely—you may decide to turn a monthly coffee meeting into an occasional check-in call instead. The point is to prioritize where you want to spend your time and who you want to spend it with.
Patrick Galvin is the chief galvanizer of The Galvanizing Group, a learning and development company that delivers coaching, training and online learning courses for high-performance companies and teams looking to improve their business relationship-building skills. This article appears in the April 2022 issue of Independent Agent magazine, the official publication of the Independent Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA), where Patrick is a frequent contributor. You can find the article at this link.
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