Category Archives: Relationships

How to Invest Time in Relationships Wisely

2-½ minutes to read

You may think you can shortcut it. But there’s no substitute for devoting time when building a relationship. No amount of intensity, emotional or otherwise, will suffice. Nor can you replace time with money. You can leverage your time by using an assistant or technology. Still, one-on-one connections need your direct involvement. Since you’re going to invest time, make sure you think through how.

How to Invest Time in Relationships Wisely

Make Relationship Building the Priority

When I was a kid my room had to pass periodic inspections. Maybe she learned it from my naval officer father. But if she found my bed unmade inevitably I’d be reminded, “Your bed’s not going to make itself.” If since then someone had invented a self-making bed, a big source of conflict between my daughter and I would be gone.

Notwithstanding my mother’s obsession with smooth sheets and hospital corners (in truth the corners thing is mine), nothing important happens without effort. If you want to have quality, productive relationships you’ll have to prioritize time to work on them.

Strong connections lead to Physical ∞ Mental ∞ Spiritual success. So I devote the first three hours of my day to relationship building. I begin with an hour of prayer and study to strengthen my connection to G-d. The next hour or so is spent taking care of my family. I make lunch for my wife and daughter and take the latter to school or camp.

I focus the final hour on friends and business associates.

Invest Time Without Expectation of Dividends

During the third hour, I check in with people to find out how they’re doing and what they’re working on. If someone has an important project under way I look for ways to help her. I thank people who have helped me out. Between email, social media, telephone, and texting, I have a myriad of ways to contact people. I figure out which one the person prefers and use it.

I don’t use quid pro quo to determine how much time to invest in a relationship. Rather, I examine whether:

  1. I have the basis for periodic, useful interaction with the person.
  2. There is something of value I have to offer.
  3. The person shares my values.

We've already looked out who to connect with.  So if the relationship meets these three criteria, I know it will grow. And when I need help, the person will offer it at the appropriate time.

The truth is I like my friends and business associates so much I could spend all day looking for opportunities to help them. Regrettably, I am not independently wealthy. So I invest time in growing my relationships without jeopardizing my business. Of course, when there’s an urgent need, I find the time to help. Isn’t that what friends do?

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Just spending time will not lead to great connection or intimacy. Witness how many long-term spouses who don’t speak to each other. They may have spent the majority of the last 20 or 30 years in the same house, even the same room. But they have no relationship.

Devote yourself to being the best friend to the people with whom you’re building relationships. Like any sound venture, doing so will pay you unlimited dividends over time.

How do you decide how to invest time in building a relationship? Please comment below.

Use These 3 Simple Ways to Connect with People

3 minutes to read

Over the last three weeks, I’ve covered whom you should connect with and the basic building blocks of relationships. Now it’s time to deal with where and how to make the initial connection. You may be wondering why I saved the first step for last. Ah ha, read on…

Use These 3 Simple Ways to Connect with People

The Facebook Syndrome

At the risk of being sent to social media prison, most of the people you’re connected to on social media are not friends. In fact, until the advent of Facebook people understood a friend was someone with whom you had an actual relationship. LinkedIn is honest about it. It calls them connections.

Think about all the people you know. With how many do you have a real bond? I couldn’t find any statistics, but I bet it’s not more than 10% to 20%. Herein lies the challenge. You’re not going to create relationships with most of the people you meet. What’s more, no matter how targeted you are, you cannot control the other person’s response. You may be willing to put a lot of effort into forming a bond. But if the other person isn’t interested or sees no value your commitment probably won’t change his mind.

Finding people with whom to build solid, mutually beneficial relationships is an iterative process. You’ll have to make some connections. Then you’ll have to test them out a little bit. For many reasons most won’t be open to your overture. You’ll have to endure the rejection. Move on and keep searching.

Building relationships is challenging. Prospecting to find the right people is harder.

3 Simple Ways to Connect

Now do you see why I waited until now to address this step? Like most important undertakings that lead to success, finding the right connections will be frustrating. You know the benefit of having strong relationships. You know how to create them. With those two foundations, you can motivate yourself to do the hard work.

Here are three ways to connect with people. Try out one of them and see if it works for you. If not, move on to the next one. Think in terms of how comfortable you are with the process. Don’t worry about results at first. If you like the manner of connecting you’re more likely to continue using it until you find the right people with whom to build relationships.

  1. Social Media. No surprise, right? Here’s the key. Focus on one social media platform. I maintain a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, but Twitter is my main focus. It’s a writer’s medium. I love the challenge of being meaningful and concise. Almost everyone I want to connect with professionally is there so I just have to catch someone’s eye. Play around with different platforms. Find one that’s fun. Then find the people you want to connect with on it. Send them a message. Contact them regularly. If they respond, fantastic! Now, build an actual relationship. If not, press on.
  2. Community Service. Before I joined the navy I was involved in philanthropy. I volunteered to fundraise, provide programming, and serve as an officer of groups whose missions I believed in. As a result, I met hundreds of people and created many solid relationships. Find an organization you want to support. Make sure it’s large enough that you’ll meet a lot of people or has as its mission delivering value to the kind of people you want to meet. I joined the Real Estate Division of the Jewish Federation because I wanted to give back to my community. In exchange, I connected with some of the most successful people in the business. Nothing mercenary here. You can do good for yourself while doing good for others. It has to be mutually beneficial.
  3. House of Worship. What better place is there to find people with whom you share similar values? Yes, I know. Not everyone is a saint. But that doesn’t matter. You’re looking to sift through the hundreds or dozens to find the few with whom you’ll build a solid relationship. One of the best parts is most congregations have social events on a regular basis so all you’ll have to do is show up. Maybe you’ll have to bring a hot dish but that’s a small price to pay. Do you attend a small church? Consider looking for somewhere bigger. I understand you may feel uncomfortable. That’s a good reason to do it. Most of the best connections you’ll make will be outside your comfort zone.

Now you need to take action. No new connection was ever made through osmosis. No productive relationship ever came into being without effort. Everything you want in life hinges on working with other people. Who are they? Where are they? You have the tools to answer these questions. Go use them.

Where have you found is the best place for making connections? Please comment below.

How to Know Whom to Create Relationships With

3 minutes to read

How is creating a relationship like choosing a piece of fruit? You have to be careful not to choose a rotten one. The last two weeks I wrote about the effort it takes to build connections into relationships. You’ll waste a lot of time and energy if you end up associating with the wrong people. What good will working to make contacts with actors do you if your business is construction? It may be exciting to know them. But most successful ones have people who take care of their financial lives. If your goal is to be the contractor to the stars seek to establish relationships with accountants and business managers.

How to Know Whom to Create Relationships With

In What Ecosystems Do You Operate?

Randomly choosing people to connect with is as bad as targeting the wrong people. In both cases you’re relying on luck to get you to your goals. You may get fortunate once in a while. But as all the luxury hotels in Las Vegas prove, gamblers lose in the end. It may sound mercenary. But you’ll have to be intentional about choosing with whom you’ll connect.

The first questions you must answer relate to the example. What is your goal? For example, if you’re looking for a job or to change careers what’s your area of interest? Be specific. You may want to be involved in electronics. But that’s a huge industry with dozens of major sub-fields that have sub-fields. As well, do you want to be in sales, support, research & development, management, or another area?

What goals do you have for family life, lifelong learning, and spiritual growth?

All these help define the ecosystems in which you want to operate. Ecosystem is a word I borrowed from Judy Robinette to describe one of the major areas of life. Examples include the military, business, industry, academia, community, government, and family & friends. Your first task is to figure out the ecosystems relevant to your life. My primary ones are family & friends, business, military, and academia. I recommend you choose three or four to focus on.

Once you’ve determined your ecosystems, examine your existing relationships. Are they spread out among all your ecosystems? How strong are these connections? How many people are far enough ahead of you to provide solid mentorship? Who among them can you guide? Have a balance of people in your ecosystems and in their stage of life.

Create Relationships in the Gaps

Where are there gaps?

Do you have an ecosystem with few or no people in it? No problem. Having identified it you can find people to fill it. Last week I showed you several ways to build stronger relationships. You can find people to connect with at many of those same places. (I’ll address this next week too.) Now the challenge is to determine how to choose.

Here are some basic criteria to use:

  1. Shared Values. Nothing but an acquaintanceship or exploitative situation can endure without commonality of values. You must have compatible standards and principles with business associates, friends, and especially your spouse. They are the basis for mutual trust.
  2. Willingness to Mutually Serve. Long-lasting relationships come from two people helping each other. While rarely will the ledger be balanced, both parties have to be committed to service.
  3. Direction for Future Growth. If you’re looking to beef up your professional life don’t connect with people close to retirement. Unless someone will maintain huge influence in your industry after leaving it, fruitful ground lies elsewhere.
  4. Your Gut Says Yes. This is a Judy-factor. I couldn’t agree with her more. If your internal alarm goes off move on. Life is too short to have to deal with liars, egotists, and deceivers.

You made decide to add more factors to your list but keep it simple. Notice I did not include similar interests or politics. Different passions give a relationship direction for growth. Politics and political affiliation are unimportant when compared to common values. (The exception is when choosing a spouse. Mixed marriages often are a recipe for divorce.)

You have limited capacity for creating durable, mutually beneficial relationships. Filling your time up dealing with takers or corrupt people saps your energy and can make you antisocial. Rather be intentional about the people you interact with. Create relationships that can nourish you while assisting in your success.

How do you choose whom to spend time with? Please comment below.

Build Relationships Physically, Mentally & Spiritually

3 minutes to read

Back when most of my friends were single they used to tell me about the dreaded “conversation.” You know the one I mean. Rarely did a personal relationship develop at the same rate for both people. So one would ask the other, “Uh, where do you think we’re at?” It was a huge risk. The response usually foretold the end or catapulted the relationship to a new level. As difficult as the “conversation” was at least you could have it with interpersonal relationships. Being that direct in business doesn’t work.

Build RelationshipsPhysically, Mentally & Spiritually

Build Relationships

My business philosophy is it’s better to keep a good client than to have to find a replacement. So while property management and real estate appraising are fairly cookie cutter businesses, I tailored my services to the specific needs of a client. One didn’t trust the US Postal Service with delivering checks. So I hand delivered them myself for several years. Then I transitioned to a messenger service. It cost me a few extra dollars. But such personal service led to the client twice raising my fee without my asking.

Whether you work for a company or run your own the stakes are the same. Your ability to build relationships that deepen over time is more valuable than your hard skills.

Much relationship building can be done on the job. But there’s a limit. Many people are uncomfortable sharing more than pleasantries at the office. Others maintain a work persona as a shield against letting people get too close. You’ll have to spend time outside of work developing strong, enduring relationships.

If you hate doing the “let’s go out after work” thing look for alternatives.

Think Physically, Mentally & Spiritually

What common interest was the basis for your initial connection with someone? Use that as a base and expand from there. If your initial affinity was business consider engaging the person in another aspect of the physical realm or in the mental or spiritual ones.

Some options to try are:

  1. Sports & Recreational Activities. Are you passionate about cross-training? Maybe the person is interested in getting into the box. Is the other person a committed lacrosse player? Try it. You may like it. Ask him what sports he likes. Ask her which recreational activities she’s involved in.
  2. Health. When someone is sick or has a chronic health challenge, your sincere support will be welcome. Periodic emails or better hand written notes can make it easier for them to bear their burden. So can a call or phone message just to let the person know he’s in your thoughts. In cases of serious injury or illness picking up her kids or running an errand will be appreciated.
  3. Learn Together. Do you need some training or a class that the other person could benefit from? Suggest you take it together. Is the person learning about a subject in which you have expertise? Offer to help him.
  4. Hobbies. Passion’s are as varied as people. Want to be my friend? Find me some kosher chocolates. I need 43 more to reach my goal of having tried a 1000. Like with sports & recreational activities, be curious about what the other person likes. You may grow to love stamp collecting because of the bond it created between you and a colleague.
  5. Community Service. I have a friend who took a woman to work at a soup kitchen on their first date. Crazy? She fell in love with and married him. A lot of companies have community service programs.  LinkedIn lists causes a person cares about. Working together to help others creates lasting memories and deep connections.
  6. Family Celebrations. Get together for a holiday. Invite your colleague and her family over for game night with your family. Fancy or simple, it doesn’t matter. Think about when you were single. Would you have liked to spend Thanksgiving with a family rather than home alone? Offer the invitation. She’ll be grateful even if she has plans.
  7. Worship & Bible Study. Are you amazed to see this on the list? Perhaps religion isn’t discussed in your workplace. So be it. But if you reach out with sincere interest in providing someone with an interesting experience, no strings attached, you may be surprised how many people will appreciate it. We are blessed to live in a religiously diverse country. Yet many people seldom have the opportunity to nourish their souls. You can give them the chance.

At this point you may be thinking these are all things you do with your friends. You're right. In the final analysis creating deep, enduring business connections is no different. You may not socialize with colleagues as often as you do with your friends. But to build relationships you still need to engage people in the physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual realms.

What interests have you shared with others? Please comment below.

Have You Accomplished Your Foremost Duty?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Pinchas – Numbers 25:10-30:1

My wife and I struggle about how to encourage our daughter’s independence.  My parents prodded me toward self-reliance from an early age.  I’m doing the same for Madeleine.  But Melanie gets a lot of satisfaction from taking care of her needs.  And who doesn’t like to be cared for?  At times we confuse Madeleine.  Watching the approach of her ninth year, my influence has become unmistakable. Perhaps our foremost duty, described in Parshas Pinchas, will be fulfilled:

…appoint a man over the assembly. (Numbers/Bamidbar 27:16)

Have You Accomplished Your Foremost Duty-

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with G-d rewarding Pinchas for his zealousness. Then censuses are taken prior to the Israelites entering the Land. Zelophehad’s daughters petition to receive their father’s inheritance.   The laws of inheritance are detailed.   Joshua is appointed as Moses’s successor. Finally the Almighty establishes the offerings brought daily, on the Sabbath, and on holidays.

A Flock Needs a Shepherd

The generation G-d took out of slavery died off. But the younger one still needed guidance. The Children of Israel won’t wander through the wilderness any longer. They must conquer the land. Then they must adjust to a settled, agrarian life.

Such a major transition is difficult. Many new questions will arise. Moses knew he would not be there to answer them. No longer could he delay his foremost duty. He had to find a successor to continue guiding the Israelites.

Moses taught Joshua the son of Nun for years. Having served the great man for so long, Joshua proved his character by not falling prey to the negativity of the spies. He could shoulder spiritual responsibility for the Children of Israel.

Your Foremost Duty in Life

You may not be responsible for the souls of hundreds of thousands of people. But you have a family. You’re responsible for your loved ones spiritual wellbeing even after you’re gone.

It’s easy to pass along material wealth. A will or trust will distribute your physical property according to your wishes. What about your accumulated knowledge and wisdom? What will happen to it?

Children no longer spend decades serving their parents and learning at their feet the way Joshua did Moses. But that does not relieve you from making every effort at seeing they benefit from what you have learned in your life. Presumably during their childhood and teen years you passed on many lessons. Hopefully they took them to heart.

Imagine the impact on Joshua of Moses learning he not would be leading the Israelites into the land. His trusted mentor would die soon. At that moment, Joshua received the legacy. He would fulfill the Almighty’s directive to bring the people to the land.

You can have a similar effect on your children. Show them spiritual matters are at least as important as monetary ones. Whether they’re adults or still young, double down now on what you’ve done in the past. Consistently reach out to them. Demonstrate how to pursue a well-lived life. Write an ethical will. Give it equal importance to your property division. Nothing less than their future depends on it.

What have you planned to ensure your foremost duty is fulfilled? Please comment below.

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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