We all want to be better. A better man, a better husband or boyfriend, a better father, a better entrepreneur. The truth is that, when it comes to being better and being successful, the relationships we build play a crucial role.
In this post, I share nine steps you can follow to build better, meaningful, long-lasting personal and professional relationships.
1. Be Honest
Regardless of the type of relationship you want to build, you owe it to yourself and to others to be honest. When you’re true to yourself and know what you want, cultivating incredible relationships, which are going to benefit you and others, is going to be easier.
2. Put Others Before Yourself
When I interviewed Mark Sieverkropp, who Forbes named one of 50 Professional Networking Experts to Watch in 2015, he talked about the “secret sauce” for building any type of long-lasting connection.
No fancy words or mind tricks here…just one word: listening. You may have an agenda, but you have to make sure that you’re a listener first.
3. How to Always Make a Great First Impression
Let’s be honest: I’m pretty sure you had been on your way to an event, a party or a conference, and had been thinking of how you could make a great first impression.
When it comes to this aspect, many people focus on what they’re going to say first. However, as my friend Jordan Harbinger - co-host of The Art of Charm - explained in a podcast interview we did, first impressions have nothing to do with what you say.
First impressions are non-verbal, they happen when someone noticess you and makes a first assessment of you.
Here’s what you can do: keep your head up, shoulders back, chest up and have a nice smile on your face. If you look open, confident and friendly, people are going to treat you that way.
4. Make Everybody You Meet Feel Welcome
You may be wondering, “How am I going to do that?”
Well, my friend, the answer is easier than you think. And ties into what I have discussed in point #2.
If you want to make every single person you meet feel welcome, you need to pay attention to them and show interest.
Don’t be afraid to ask them about themselves - people love when others show interest in them. Are they saying something interesting? Great! Make sure to repeat some of that, as you’re commenting what they have just told you.
In most cases, showing interest is going to result in the other person’s genuine interest in you and your personal story.
5. Focus on the Positive
In his new book Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life best-selling author, wellness and health expert Tom Rath talks about a simple thing you can do to improve the quality of your relationships.
We all have interactions throughout our day - with our spouse or partner, with our children, with our colleagues and business partners, with the bus driver, etc. But what can you do to improve their nature?
The answer is simple: focus on having more positive interactions.
On the 360 Entrepreneur Podcast, Rath explained the importance of this aspect: “A single negative interaction has an impact that is more powerful than that of five positive interactions.”
So, what can you do about that?
For starters, pay attention and put emphasis on people’s strengths and wins. When talking to someone try and focus on their positive traits.
You shouldn’t ignore the negative sides of your interactions, but ideally you would want to follow an 80-20 rule. Where 80% of your interactions look at positive aspects, and only the 20% deals with negative ones.
6. (Be a Helper and) Take It One Step Further
How can you stand out from the crowd and make sure others remember you?
Whether you’re struggling to build meaningful personal or professional relationships, there’s a good chance that you following the mass. Being like everybody else and doing what everybody else’s doing, has an impact on that.
Maybe you want to impress the woman you’re dating (remember, be honest to yourself) or perhaps you would like to connect with leaders in your industry on social media or at the next conference you’re both going to attend.
Keep in mind that we all need help with something. Your date may be new in town and in need of help getting to know the place. If you’re married, your wife might be pursuing a specific dream, and you could help turning that into reality.
Influencers in your niche always appreciate exposure. Your help could come in the form of an Amazon review of their new book, a blog post mentioning them or an invitation to be a guest on your podcast, for example.
Stay honest with yourself and try to figure out ways you can stand out by taking it one step further and help others - all without having a particular agenda in mind.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Flaws
Sometimes, you need to put your ego aside, open up and admit you have made a mistake.
We all want to be perfect, the alpha man, but the reality is that vulnerability allows us to connect with those we’re talking to on an emotional level.
In other words, by being honest, admitting you made a mistake and by apologizing, you show a big strength: your ability to admit your flaws. Remember, showing your vulnerable side is a sign of openness and honesty to the other person.
Particularly when it comes to business relationships, people take the leap and break the ice. They introduce themselves, chat for a little why, exchange business cards and contact information…
And leave it at that.
Networking, relationship-building expert, and former White House Writer John Corcoran often stresses the importance of following up. For your business relationships, you can do that using a CRM (customer relationship management) software like Contactually, for instance.
This is going to make sure that you get the most out of the relationship with your customers, your peers and leaders in your industry.
For your personal relationships, you can use a technique I learned from Mark Sieverkropp. You can break down the contacts in your phone or email address book in alphabetical order and dedicate a few minutes of each week to reach out to them. This week, for example, you could focus on people whose last name starts with the letters A, B and C. Next week, D, E, and F, etc.
This will make sure that you’re not going to be forgotten by people, and will keep your relationships an ongoing thing.
9. Leave Everything and Everybody Better Than You Found Them
There’s plenty of tips and tricks I could share with you. If you want to build better, meaningful, long-lasting relationships, it all boils down to this quote by Jordan Harbinger: “Leave everything and everyone better than you found them”.