Relationships. Every business depends on relationships, especially those that are bootstrapping and looking to gain co-founders, strategic partners, and investors. However, that means you have to make great friends, and that means being a great friend. And that’s where the entire idea of creating strong relationships gets tough.
For that reason, I’ve gathered a few great perspectives on building relationships from three of the best thought leaders on this subject:
1. Connect. “Connecting is one of the most important business—and life—skill sets you’ll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like. Careers—in every imaginable field—work the same” –Keith Ferazzi, author of Never Eat Alone
How do you become that person that people know and like? Simply put, make a great first impression and add value at every turn.
One way to do that is to be fully present when you meet someone. Notice their body language, facial expressions and eye color. When they give their name, see it written in the sky and repeat it back to them. When you shake their hand, remember that everyone’s best friend was once a stranger. Being present will lead to better ‘small talk.’
2. Care. Gary Vaynerchuk’s first book, ‘Crush It,’ includes a one word chapter on marketing. The word is ‘care.’ Care about the person you meet. Really want to help them because it will show. Caring is easy when we remember that ‘just like me’ this person also has a big dream and would like to meet great people.
3. Discover. “[Building a network is] finding and connecting like-minded people and leading them to a place they want to go.” -Seth Godin
Discover a person’s goals and see how you can help. Going back to Gary V’s point, help from a place of care, not because you want something. The right person will look to help you in return without you asking.
All three authors agree on adding value to the relationship first. To do this, you can: offer to make an intro, invite to an event, invite to coffee, recommend a book, send over an article, or recommend an online tool.
Lastly, if you don’t feel a connection, don’t fake it! Just move on. Simon Sinek has an entire TEDtalk based on the idea that you shouldn’t try to do business with everyone that needs your service, but rather, everyone that aligns with your values. So be a great friend: connect, care, and discover how you help your network, and your network will be better able to help you in the process.