“If You Have a Relationship, You Have a Road” Chinese Proverb
Roads and relationships both are good. But they are even more useful when you have a map. It is especially true when you are building and maintaining relationships with a network of friends, acquaintances and associates.
I love roadmaps mainly because it gives me some sense of security. I don’t always use the maps I have but, it’s there if I need it, which my wife says I do, and it’s all refolded in a way that makes it twice the thickness of the originally folded version and stuffed in my “glove box”. (Now there is a term that doesn’t fit today’s needs and uses of that compartment in the dash). And there’s another antiquated term, “dashboard” which is now the “instrument panel”. Sounds like you’re doing the final checks on a Space Shuttle launch. Sorry about the digression. Now do you see why I need a map?
And I can pull out the map and look up and down the road and see where I’m going and where I’ve been. The difference in a map for roads and a map for relationships is that “where I’ve been” isn’t so important when traveling down the highway. I’m much more concerned about where I’m going. That’s where the whole security thing comes into play.
However, in relationship maps, where I’ve been is just as important as where I’m going. In looking backwards I am keeping track of the people that got me where I am today. That’s important for a couple reasons.
(1.) The older I get the more forgetful I am about the people that introduced me to the person that introduced me to the person that actually made something good happen in my life, either in business or just in general. I may be four or five people removed from the initial introduction by the time something comes of that contact.
(2.) The busier I get (thanks mostly to the same people we’re talking about here) the less time I have to figure out and track backwards to those contacts that linked me to the successful ending.
Here’s why this is important. People really appreciate the fact that you took the time to let them know what happened as a result of that introduction whether it was a week ago or a year ago. They do. This just doesn’t happen in today’s world. You are doing something is out of the ordinary not to mention it is something that you should do just as a good human being, and it will pay dividends going forward. Here’s how.
(1) It reestablishes the connection with that person in a way that is memorable,
(2) It communicates genuine appreciation for the time they took to help you and
(3) It will move you to a top-of-mind position with them so, if there are other people that they think you should meet or someone they know that could help, you’re back in position to receive that call or email. So, “Out of sight, out of mind”? Not any more.
And here is a novel thought. Don’t just send them a quick email that is banged out between meetings. Write (that’s what I said) write them a handwritten note on an actual piece of paper and put it in an actual envelop with an actual stamp on it. You talk about impact! How many hand-written notes do you get? Don’t know their address? Find it. Find their business website, go to the local county property tax rolls on the Internet and find their home address. You’re a smart person. You can do it. You’re smart enough to be reading this blog aren’t you?
Relationship building takes time and effort. This is an important part of it.
I use an application on my iPhone and iPad called MindMap Pro. It allows me to quickly create visual maps and add notes to the maps and I can go to it in the middle of any situation and figure out where I am on the relationship road. I don’t get lost. I know exactly where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going.