3 Steps To Establishing A Beneficial Relationship
One of the most important things we can do as successful entrepreneurs and business owners is establish beneficial relationships with those around us. Whether you find yourself seeking a mentor, a business partner, or simply want to get your foot in the door, establishing healthy relationships is key to success.
Often times we go about establishing these relationships in a rather direct manner, formatting an email or sending a message over LinkedIn that states what we want from someone else with little regard for their needs. But the largest issue when approaching someone in this way comes from the lack of empathy, from taking a ‘me centric’ approach that often ignores the needs of the person we seek to gain something from.
Perhaps this simply stems from the common mindset that time is money, and time spent without results is what some may refer to as “time wasted”. But the truth of the matter is that while this direct tactic may work in a number of instances, it often isn’t the most effective, nor the healthiest means, of establishing a new relationship. So what is?
Answering this question wholeheartedly requires a bit of empathy. Let’s say, for instance, that we’re looking to find a mentor that can help us hone our skills as a graphic designer, and we’ve found someone online that’s local and meets our criteria. We want something from them (their knowledge and guidance), but what can we give in return? How can we make this relationship feel beneficial for both parties and avoid the ‘me me me’ approach?
Let’s follow the steps.
Step 1: Identify Their Needs, And Presenting An Offer
The first step when establishing a healthy relationship is to give. The key here is to take one of your skills and find a way to use it so as to benefit the person you want to know. Let’s pretend the graphic designer you’ve found online has a personal website that looks a bit outdated. Rather than approach them looking for something, reach out offering to help them first. Use your WordPress skills and offer to update their website free of charge. Remember that if you want something for free, you’ll likely need to offer something for free. In doing so you’ve immediately demonstrated value, and a far greater likelihood that they’ll feel inclined to do something in return.
If you’re not a WordPress pro, look elsewhere in their life and determine pain points that you can alleviate. If you’re a marketing consultant, offer advice or SEO services for their business. If you’re a HR consultant, offer to audit their business and find ways in which they can improve employee relationships. Be imaginative, and use what you know to help them with their needs — even if that means identifying needs they didn’t know existed.
Step 2: Expect Nothing In Return
This is one of the hardest steps of this process because you just gave time and energy to someone expecting something in return. But the reality is that you need to let them come to you with an offer to return the favor — and they will. Nothing feels worse than the moment when someone does you a favor, only to come back demanding some form of repayment. Requesting something in return completely delegitimizes all the work you just put in and gives an air of selfishness. Understand that it may take some time for them to return the favor — it may not be an immediate tit-for-tat. But also understand that developing a healthy and beneficial relationship always takes time.
Step 3: When They Return The Favor
At some point they’re going to ask you what they can do in return. You’ve demonstrated clear value and empathy, and now they want to return the favor. This is your turn to pitch the relationship, establishing a plan in which you can continually help each other. Often times this may involve some form of negotiation, a back and forth conversation in which you can reach a mutual agreement that benefits both parties. Doing so ensures a lasting relationship that will prove fruitful in the long run. And there’s nothing better than forming a relationship that lasts. Be open, respectful of their needs, and show willing to sacrifice more of your time in exchange for theirs. An ongoing relationship doesn’t end when you’ve completed a favor. Instead it is a constant flow of give and take.
Establishing these healthy and beneficial relationships is key to personal success. As life often shows us, little can be done without the helping hand of another human being along the way. While some may feel inclined to carve their own path, even this action isn’t done in complete isolation. Many of the most successful people and businesses in the world only rose to such prominence because of the ties they established with others.
Remember that this is a long game, and we need to be willing to play all of it. While many of us would like to spark up a relationship through a kindly worded email, rarely does this ever occur. Putting in time, effort, attention, and empathy is the only fail proof means by which we can continually succeed with the help of others. Only when we’ve put our energy into another person can we expect to find that energy returned back to us. If life is truly a state of constantly flowing energy, then what you give will be returned in time.
Just keep playing the long game.