One good relationship can change your life. It takes only one person with the right contacts to believe in you, support your dreams and jumpstart your success. These personal victories happen all the time, but they don’t develop overnight. Sometimes it takes years of meeting and connecting with people to find that one, generous benefactor. And if they open any doors for you, it’s because you’ve proved through months or years of added value that you’re the right person to endorse.
That’s how the best relationships happen. From marriages to brand partnerships, one party does something so well that the other can’t see life without them. But how do people get noticed and create such infectious bonds?
In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, you’ll learn six secrets to forming great relationships. Whether you’re connecting with strangers or business clients, you need this people playbook to grow your network.
As Nikola Tesla once said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
Relationships need a healthy dose of all three, so do these six things to make yours last for years to come.
1. Check your energy.
When a person goes out of their way to be friendly, adding a sprinkle of care to everything they do, it’s attractive. They don’t even have to make a grand, sweeping gesture. It’s the little things that count—holding the door open as someone walks into a building or helping a coworker carry a heavy load. Even if they’re short on time, a kind person manages to smile and say hello before walking away.
This is the type of energy you want to have: graceful, kind and joyous. Your aura breaks the ice between you and everyone else, so be positive. That’s the first step to starting and continuing great conversations.
When in doubt, ask yourself two questions:
- How do I want to make people feel when I talk to them?
- How can I get this person to connect with me?
2. Be vulnerable.
This isn’t a natural skill for most people. The default response, especially with strangers, is to keep ideas and emotions close to the chest. It makes us feel protected. We think we’re keeping out the bad things, such as having our ideas stolen, looking weak or being judged. But in reality, we’re shutting out some amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
To undo this, reframe the way you feel about vulnerability. View it as a way to get the things you want today instead of years later. As people begin to understand your goals and dreams, they can help you achieve them much faster—and vice versa.
Life moves quickly. People are in a rush to get ahead, and they sometimes forget that others have a destination, too. As a result, we’ve lost our ability to truly see one another. We know lots of people, but can we imagine what it’s like to be the people we associate with? Our friends? Our coworkers?
If not, take a breath. Slow down. Listen to people on a deeper level and allow yourself to feel what they’re saying. Let their stories of triumph and loss bring goosebumps to your arm or tears to your eyes.
When your empathy for someone goes this deep, you’re truly connecting. The person in front of you can see how much you care, and that leads to mutual trust.
4. Add value to people’s lives.
It’s easy to feel as though the world revolves around you. After all, you’re the one making decisions and charting a course for your own existence. But the further along you get, the more you realize that life isn’t about any one person. Everyone pitches in to make society work.
Relationships are the same way. If you want them to last, pitch in and add value to people’s lives.
It’s best to do this without expecting anything in return. You shouldn’t offer to help someone if your goal is to make money or collect favors. Those things may come, but they should happen naturally. For now, focus on helping others solve a problem, whether that’s starting a business, graduating college, or any goal that has life-changing merit. That’s how you build a network of strong, genuine relationships.
It only takes one question: How can I make myself better so I can help others?
5. Show your appreciation.
The people in your life want to feel appreciated. Chances are, it’s not because they’re looking for attention to feed their ego. If they really care about you, they just want to know where they stand in your life. They want to know if they’re contributing to your happiness or causing you undue stress.
This is a question that often goes unasked, but you still have to answer it. You can start by learning someone’s language and using that knowledge to express your appreciation. In The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Gary Chapman describes several ways people give and receive love:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
Which of the five makes your person smile? Use that love language to reinforce the relationship.
6. Be consistent.
Building strong relationships is a long and involved process, so don’t give up. Be consistent. Instead of thinking in terms of days, give yourself years to grow and maintain your relationships. In that time, keep doing everything mentioned above. Have good energy, be vulnerable, empathize, add value and show your appreciation. If you can, do these things daily.
Will you fail now and then? Absolutely. Each day won’t be a perfect portrayal of how you want to connect with others. But it’s not the end of the world. You can correct your mistakes, apologize if needed and start fresh in the morning.