People are so incredible! Relationships change your life whether you want to admit it or not (We’ve all heard Jim Rohn’s, “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”).
So why do you hesitate to go out and change your life?
- Fear — Perhaps it is because you are fearful. Fearful of rejection, embarrassment, awkward encounters and ‘not getting it right.’
- Lack of Knowledge — Maybe you just don’t understand how to go about finding, establishing and growing the type of relationships that will forever change your life.
- Arrogance — Or, perhaps you don’t believe that you even need these types of relationships. As Nicolas Cole stated in a recent article:
“people know what they need help with, but they refuse to admit it. That does not make you stronger or more ambitious. That makes you unintelligent.
Ask for help.”
I have compiled a guide from my own experience for creating invaluable relationships below.
This is not a guide to becoming a millionaire — this is a guide for creating million-dollar relationships — if you do not see the difference then this is exactly where you need to be.
The majority of us do not already have a wide network that we can tap into (through family or friends etc.). So, we have to start at square one: searching for someone to connect with.
The incredible news is that with a laptop and a Starbucks wifi connection you can reach out to nearly anyone you can imagine — you have no excuse. If you are reading this, you have the tools necessary to find truly incredible people!
Other than Google searches, you have Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace?
More often than not, I start with Google, identify a company, publication, bio, book (whatever!) that I am interested in and then reach out using Linkedin, email etc. — take your pick. (I also often find people through Medium articles or even in books whom I find interesting and I reach out to them)
There are so many do’s and don’t’s when it comes to contacting someone out of the blue. Do be concise. Don’t be ambiguous as to your intentions. Do be professional. Don’t be arrogant in your request — and the list goes on.
The Three Must’s in my opinion are: be concise, be absolutely, glaringly clear what you want, and explicitly state why they (the person you’re annoying) should care enough to waste valuable time on you.
Example (Let’s say it is early 2004):
Hello Mr. Zuckerberg — I would like to buy you a cup of coffee.
I am a sophomore at Harvard studying computer science. I am very interested in the company you just founded, TheFacebook, and it would be my pleasure to buy you a cup of coffee sometime in the near future to discuss the creation of online communities and their potentially massive societal impact.
- Concise: literally three sentences long.
- Clear Intentions: Buy you a cup of coffee (x2)
- Relevance: Harvard…Computer science…New company…Online communities…Societal impact…(you share an alma mater, you’re studying something relevant to the company he just founded, you are interested in topics he is engaged in)
Once you have worked out the location of the meeting (do not assume they will go out of their way to meet, you need to be ready and willing to travel the distance and meet at their convenience), and the timing of the meeting (sometimes you might have to schedule weeks in advance or they may even connect you with their assistant for scheduling a meeting), it is time to prepare for the meeting.
I don’t mean doing some online shopping for a new outfit to impress — I mean dedicating at least two hours to reading about the person, their connections, their past experiences (deals, companies, products, education etc.).
Research, research, research. Do your work — it will show.
You have come this far, you have a meeting set up with someone you admire (or that terrifies you, same thing sometimes) and everything is about to begin!
The worse thing you can do now is to slide straight into that meeting without having put in any sleuthing work beforehand.
“Hello Mr. Smith! Thank you so much for meeting me. So, what is it that you do again exactly?”
*Mr. Smith immediately checks watch and plans fast-approaching exit*
Assuming you have done your research, been considerate in the logistical aspects of setting up this meeting, arrived on time (15 minutes early is actually ‘on time’), you are wearing something presentable (this depends on the location, his/her profession etc.), you now find yourself across the table from someone who is suddenly very real.
Next step? Shut up and listen.
To paraphrase something from a recent post by Ryan Holiday,
The point of this meeting is not to share your opinion. So, unless you are asking a question, shut up. Seriously, CLOSE YOUR MOUTH.
You are here to learn! You are here to absorb and respond — You are NOT here to recite your ever-so-carefully-crafted-résumé by heart with eloquent rhetoric and elegant hand gestures…
And, boom! You shook their hand, bid them farewell, probably said something awkward about traffic because you’re bad at goodbyes — and it’s over! You feel amazing! You didn’t even spill any coffee on your shirt! Booyah, nailed it.
The truth is, this is only the beginning. Buckle up.
If you are serious about creating life-changing relationships, then get serious. It isn’t easy.
Post-Meeting Action Items:
- Write down a recap of the meeting. You are going to be so grateful for this down the road.
- Compose a thank-you email highlighting/repeating key points from the meeting and genuinely thanking the individual for taking the time to meet — indicate that you look forward to connecting again in the near future.
- Actually work on what was discussed in the meeting (some tasks he/she suggested you complete, an article to read, a market to analyze, a poem to look up etc. ACT UPON WHAT THEY SUGGESTED)
- Send a follow-up email a week or so down the road concerning something you discovered relevant to your discussion, a question, or progress made from item #3.^
- Begin coordinating another meeting a few weeks after the first meeting.
You are a changed person. In the time that has stretched between the first meeting and the meeting coming up soon (assuming you scheduled a second meeting) you have entirely changed (If you are actively pursuing your goals and interests and seeking to develop as a person, you change a little every day).
You now know how to engage with your new acquaintance — you have gotten to know each other a little bit.
You grew as a direct result of the action you took after the first meeting and you have things to discuss with them!
This is where a critical aspect of this new relationship arises. You may feel that you owe this person and need to “pay them back” for the time and attention they are devoting to you.
One of the most valuable ways (and often times the only way) that you can “pay this person back” is by showing them that you are ready and willing to grow as a direct result of the time and energy they invest in you.
Listen, Learn, Grow, Repeat.
Wait, what?! Again?! But you just finished and did SO well…! Realistically, you should strive to repeat this process (and get much better at it each time) many times over.
You are not always going to click with the person on the other side of the table.
Your schedule may suddenly fill up (overwhelmingly so) and force you to cancel/reschedule so many times that the other person loses interest.
You may (actually, you most definitely will) mess up and it may cause you to lose the opportunity with this specific individual.
You are going to fail.
And that is exactly the point. If you are not hurting then you are not growing. Push yourself to breakdowns and turn them into breakthroughs.
You are going to fail and that is truly a wonderful thing!