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Investing in Relationships

Investing in Relationships

In 1993, mountain climber Greg Mortenson got lost after a failed attempt to summit K2 in the Himalayan mountains. He wandered into a remote village in Pakistan where the locals cared for him. As he recovered, he found that the 82 children of Korphe had no school building and a teacher only 3 days a week. They spent all of their school hours sitting outside scratching their lessons onto slates or into the dirt with sticks. He vowed that he would return to the village to help build a school. Within 10 years he had built not only the school in Korphe but 55 schools for the children of Pakistan.

During the construction of that first school, Mortenson had to get figure out how to get things done with people in this culture. The village chief pulled him aside one day and told him “If you want to thrive here, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with us, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family and for our family we are prepared to do anything, even die” (from Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin).

Performance Principle: Relationships are an investment. Investing in relationships can often seem like a waste of time. However, if you are intentional about investing in relationships, you will ultimately accomplish much more than you ever would or could alone. Here are six steps you can take to build relationships effectively:

1. Ask and listen, don’t talk and tell. In other words, shut up and listen. People are a lot more interested in hearing themselves talk than in hearing what you have to say. I have had people comment that they had a great conversation with me and I barely said a word! There are very few good listeners in the world. Become one of them.

2. Get out of the office. Relationships are developed on the golf course, at your kid’s soccer game, or at dinner – not at the office. Spending time with people socially accelerates the velocity with which trusting relationships are developed. Be intentional about investing time with people outside of 8-5.

3. Be a referral source. Don’t wait for others to refer to you, be a source of referrals for them. Referrals deepen relationships. People are busy, but they will always take time for you if you are a source of business.

4. Reconnect. Don’t neglect relationships from the past. Take the time to reach out to people you know from former jobs or school days gone past. People who know you from the past can be some of the most valuable and meaningful relationships that you have.

5. Stay until the quesadillas are scorched. When you go to a networking event, stay until the bitter end. Don’t leave until you see the last quesadilla scorching on the bottom of the chafing dish. It is invariably in the last half hour of these events that I have the one conversation that makes it all worthwhile.


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