“Few great things are accomplished by one person alone.”

I am sure you have heard this saying before. I would say that the majority of people I have met in my professional life would agree with this statement.

The logic behind it is very simple: any big accomplishment that you want to achieve in life is going to be with the help from other people, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously.

Think about that for a second.

In any field, I do not care if it is in sports, entertainment, politics, education, business, or spirituality, at some level, someone is going to help you during the process.

In sports, you have coaches, mentors or athletes that inspire you. In business you have your mastermind group, your role models, partners, employees, and associates.

In education you have someone who came before you and wrote books, you have teachers and discussions with other people.

Now, I am not discounting the fact that for one to be able to achieve great results in life, one must have individual characteristics such as goal-orientation, self-determination, leadership, drive and a strong work ethic.

These traits are prerequisites.

Besides those traits, leaders who achieve greatness are masters at creating and cultivating relationships.

What I have found is that people in general are very good at creating relationships, finding something in common with others, finding something they like in other people, caring about their goals, etc.  But most people do not make a conscious effort to keep those relationships alive.

I believe that the primary two reasons people do not keep these relationships alive are:

a) they take these relationships for granted and

b) they do not have a system in place.

When I graduated from high school (Colegio Anchieta in Porto Alegre, Brazil)… I had a conversation with one of my friends that was extremely powerful, although at that time it did not make sense to me at all. (Years later I came to the realization of its accuracy.)

My friend looked around the room and said, “That is it Roberto, look at all of these people here. It will most likely be the last time you will see most of them in your lifetime. In 10 years or so, you will not talk to 99% of these people.

You won’t even remember some of their names. “I thought that my friend was really rude and negative for saying that. Now, over two decades later, I realize that he was somehow accurate with his prediction. I graduated in 1988 (dang, I am getting old…) and I personally kept in touch with only 3 people from my class.

How crazy is that?

Nowadays, I consider myself someone who is very good at creating and keeping relationships alive, but what happened before? I think I took for granted that those people were going to be there forever! The same thing happened when I got my BA in Business and Finance and my MBA in Marketing.

I just expected to be in contact with my classmates forever. Thinking that they are always going to be there, you do not make the effort to keep these relationships alive.

Well, that was the past. With time and experience, I have learned both the importance of cultivating relationships and also how fulfilling it truly is. Back in high school we did not have email, Facebook, Myspace or Linkedin.

Today, it’s very different, and technology makes it extremely easy for someone to keep relationships alive. Of course, these technologies are not a substitute for a face-to-face coffee or lunch, however they facilitate the interaction and the constant communication that any relationship needs in order to stay alive.

I do not consider myself a technology person or a geek, and the truth is you do not have to be one to take advantage of what social media tools have to offer. The key message is that either online or offline, you must make relationship building a part of your marketing strategy (personal and professional marketing).

Here are a couple of things to watch for when crating your relationship-building plan:

1. Care about others: Be genuine and really care about people. You must be really interested in establishing a relationship with a person that you want to help.

2. Technology: Use technology to your advantage, do not become a slave to it. You can use Facebook and Linkedin to keep in touch, but do not overdo it.

3. Value: Find a way to bring value to your relationships. Give ideas, referrals, and genuine compliments to your relationship partners.

4. Keep in touch: Do not expect to contact someone once and think it is enough. Relationships grow with time.

5. Triple Win: Make sure your relationships create triple win scenarios (you win, they win, and society wins).

I promise you that as soon as you devote time to building up your network, strengthen your current relationships and establish new ones; you will see an immediate positive impact in your life and in the lives of others.

To a 2012 full of loving and profit-building relationships!


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