You’re not going to make it very far in life without the right people around you.
As much as we tell ourselves that our achievements will be the result of hard work, oftentimes being in the right place with the right people is the catalyst that launches you into a new phase of your business, career, or life.
Business owners need strong clients, employees, and mentors. Athletes need quality coaches and teammates. In any domain, the need to foster and grow relationships with your most important people is paramount. Your network is your greatest asset.
The better you are at networking, the more true this becomes. There is a reason every successful tech startup in Silicon Valley has a war room full of innovative and talented people on staff. They understand that, above all, people will be the reason their business grows. Good things happen when you expose unique talents to other unique talents.
Whether you work for yourself, aspire to, or would simply like to advance your career, you will accomplish far more in less time with the right people in your life.
Relationship-Stacking: A 10-Minute Daily Habit for Growing Your Networks
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
– African proverb
Now here’s the problem. Building relationships takes time. It isn’t always a productive endeavor, because you’re dealing with humans, not deadlines. It can cost money, and doesn’t necessarily bring an immediate ROI. As our commitments grow and our workload increases, it’s tempting to stick with what (and who) we know.
But like anything in life, if your network isn’t growing, it’s dying. Even if you’re not in the market for new client relationships, fostering your current ones should be a priority every day.
And because a business mirrors the rest of the world in so many ways, a more fruitful personal life is right around the corner if you commit to building relationships each day, too.
A potential solution? Consider adding relationship-stacking to your list of daily habits. Think of relationship-stacking as a condensed, intentional session where you spend time growing current and new relationships.
- Begin by committing 10 minutes each day to growing your network. Pencil it into your calendar if you need to.
- Make a list of all skills or anything of value that you already can bring to a relationship. What skills do people pay you for? Are you a leader? A strong coach or mentor? It might feel silly applying this to your personal life, but it is a good question to ask yourself — What do you bring to the table?
- Take some time to write down the names of people currently in your network. Categorize your network into groups. Examples include clients, friends, family, colleagues, and mentors. You might also make notes on the people you add to your list. For example, “Doug = marketing expert, sport fan”; “Patty = excellent host, loves getting together for food”; and so on.
- Identify three people or archetypes (ex. “business mentor”) that you’d like to add to your network in the next six months. Where can you find these people? What skills that you possess could be beneficial to their goals?
- Get started! Use 10 minutes a day to expand your relationships.
Here are three ways you might start relationship-stacking.
Option 1: The text message or email
Use your 10 minutes today to send out text messages or emails to people from your list. Don’t be the guy that “is just checking in.” You aren’t their doctor. And please, don’t be the guy sending out cold emails asking people what their biggest problem is.
Spend the first 9 minutes looking into what they are doing on Facebook, LinkedIn, their website, or elsewhere. Ask questions that matter to them and above all, do not rush. People always know when you aren’t straight with them. Just because you can send out fifty text messages in 10 minutes does not mean you should. One might be more than enough, if it’s to the right person.
Something to consider with this option is that not everyone will answer right away, meaning that you’ll have homework to do later on.
Option 2: The handwritten card
When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? As outdated as it seems, it means a lot to receive a handwritten card in the mail from someone.
Who deserves a thank you in your business or personal life? Could you make an employee’s day by showing them you noticed, and that you care?
Use your 10-minute relationship-stacking block to write a card to someone that deserves it. The power of this option is something that has to be experienced. People love getting cards — it’s a simple gesture that might win you a fan or friend for life.
Option 3: The long-term play
What long-term, high-impact activities could you invest your time and energy into in the coming months? Use your 10-minute block to figure it out.
Spend the first few minutes of your relationship-stacking block looking over your agenda for times you could schedule activities with people in your network. Could you take Friday afternoon off in two weeks to get lunch with an old client? When’s the next time you’ll sit down with a mentor of yours? Can you afford to take the whole day off and go on a weekend trip with your family?
The quality of your life can be measured by the quality of your relationships, and a prerequisite to quality is consistent effort over a long period of time. Play the long game.
If it wasn’t already apparent, I want to leave you with a disclaimer: building a relationship is not about what you can extort from someone else.
The goal of relationship-stacking is to give you a simple vehicle to build relationships. It’s a small chunk of time each day wherein you should be authentic and honest with yourself and others. It’s a way for you to become intentional about who is in your life at a given moment.
You will go nowhere if you spend 10 minutes a day hard-selling to strangers, lying or being selfish. Your initiative is what will be remembered most, and first impressions are important. People remember you when you show that above all, you cared enough about them and their goals to be the one to go first.
That might be the most important message of this entire piece; it’s your responsibility to grow your relationships. Don’t let people in your business or personal life fall through the cracks because “they haven’t reached out recently.”
Chances are, they are sitting on the other side making the same excuses about their lack of time or resources that you are. There’s always a way to make time when you value something.
After all, there isn’t much in life that’s more important than who you spend it with.