Long time readers of this blog as well as newbies have probably figured out by now that relationships are important to me, whether we’re talking about business relationships, personal relationships, or something in-between. Relationships are intrinsic to human nature. Even if you choose NOT to have a relationship with someone—you still have a relationship with that person, albeit one that’s less than ideal. There’s just no getting around it.

Looking at the news these days, from recurring troubles in the Middle East and the human drama unfolding on our southern borders, to budget battles in cities and towns big and small, to the ongoing plight of the chronically unemployed and its effects on families, I like to imagine what a little “Relationship 101” might do for each of these situations. Naïve, you say? Perhaps. But it’s hard to argue that the world would not be a better place if people on all sides of every issue could show a little compassion for one another . . . and it all starts with mutual respect, the cornerstone of any lasting and productive relationship. Add in a little empathy, and we just might have a winning formula!

Without further ado, here’s my previous blog on the power of relationships. Enjoy!

Leveraging the True Power of Relationships

(Originally posted on May 23, 2012)

In an ideal world, success would be determined by what you know and how hard you were willing to apply that knowledge to solving problems, innovating, and making a difference in the lives of others. Of course, we live in a world of people, so life doesn’t always unfold in ideal ways. With people come emotions, motivations, preferences, likes, dislikes, interactions, communications challenges, and practically any other “wildcard” you can imagine. Success is often less about what you know and more about who you know; it’s about RELATIONSHIPS.

(Part of any relationship is having fun  . . . and  I can’t think of a better way to make you smile than a simple “make you laugh” video. ENJOY!)

As I work with individuals ranging from senior executives to young upstart entrepreneurs, we often discuss the importance of building and nurturing long-lasting, mutually-respectful relationships. Why? Aside from the obvious “Why not,” it’s really quite simple:  humans have an innate need to be connected to others. We are at our “best” when we are in healthy, supportive relationships in the workplace and at home.

Relationships serve us in all sorts of way. They . . .

  • Offer a safety net against life’s sudden twists and turns. When we are in relationships with others, from a spouse, partner, significant other, or just close friends, we are never truly alone . . . and this is more powerful than perhaps most of us realize. We tend to be more confident and self-assured in everything we do when we know that others “have our back.”
  • Allow to us share knowledge and experience with others, and to get the same in return. We all have lessons learned to share with others, and we can all benefit from knowing about the triumphs and challenges of others. It’s how we grow and learn.
  • Present us with leads and opportunities we otherwise could not have discovered. We can’t possibly keep track of everything that’s moving and shaking in our own little corners of the world, from job openings, investment opportunities, or even social activities. Relationships with others help us cast a wider net, opening us up to newfound possibilities.
  • Allow us to help others, to show compassion, to do good deeds, to lend a hand. We get energy from doing good; and there doesn’t have to be some form of Karmic payback to make it worthwhile (though it sure is nice when one good deed leads to another).
  • Allow us to share the workload, to create high-performing teams—and if you’ve ever been on a team, whether in business or in sports, you know what I mean. There is strength in numbers, and it’s not just additive but exponential. What one person can’t possibly hope to get done, several people can often take on and achieve tenfold. Think about it, the LA Dodgers wouldn’t be too successful if they fielded only one player now, would they?

Of course, I don’t mean you have to be on first-name basis with all of your contacts, sharing baby pictures, and overnighting on weekend getaways. Certainly not. Relationships come in all shapes and sizes—some are intimate, such as with a spouse, partner, or dear friends; others are distant, such as with acquaintances and long-lost relatives; and others land somewhere in-between, such as with work colleagues and networking buddies. And it’s not always a matter of numbers. Sure, the more relationships you have, the better-connected you might feel, but the quality of those relationships plus the effort you put into maintaining them matters just as much as quantity.

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Far too frequently, I’ll encounter managers and executives who I tried to introduce to new people over the years while impressing on them the importance of relationship-building, and they are now laid off, trying to build a network from scratch. Of course, the right thing to do is help them—which I do—but still I shake my head: cultivating relationships is a lifelong pursuit, not something to do only once life deals you a blow.

Quite literally, these days there’s no excuse for failing to build and maintain relationships. With social media, it’s easy to maintain connections with people the world over. Update your Facebook status and connect with hundreds if not thousands of friends and associates instantly. In 140 characters or less, you can tweet your latest insight or lead to all 500 of your Twitter followers. And don’t forget the power, reach, and simplicity of email, enewsletters, blogs, and even text messaging—not to mention networking groups, meetings, conferences (in my book, nothing beats face-to-face interactions, sharing business cards, and maybe even a cocktail).

Take the time to build your network and manage it. You never know when your relationships will open a door to opportunity, or when you can open that same door for somebody else.

How have relationships helped your professional pursuits? When have they revealed to you opportunities you otherwise would have missed?

Share here . . . inquiring monkeys want to know!