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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.
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:
- I have the basis for periodic, useful interaction with the person.
- There is something of value I have to offer.
- 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.