The 2007 film called Into The Wild tells the true story of a young man who graduates from university, packs it all in, sells everything and heads into the bush. Without revealing the ending if you have not seen it, the film questions the ability of a human being to exist with no one around them.
We are all surrounded by people: family, friends, coworkers, clients, suppliers, BFF’s and more. The role these people play in our lives is so often taken for granted. We assume they will be there as long as we want. We assume they will be there for us when we need them – professionally or personally.
The relationships in our lives are vital to our happiness, our health, and maybe our well- being. It’s funny that these relationships are so important to us yet we spend very little time ‘managing’ them.
I have been presenting a keynote speech by the same title as this blog for the past 3 to 4 years. Every time I give this speech people line up afterwards and comment that this is the part of their lives they really need to work on. Young professionals will comment that they do take their professional relationships for granted and they need to work on them more strategically. Others will comment afterwards that they now recognize key relationships in their lives that need to be dealt with immediately. Anyone in the audience facing the ‘last third’ of their lives will often remark that they wish they had paid more attention to key relationships in their lives now that they are facing the retirement years.
We are all guilty of letting relationships ‘slide’. No longer in contact. No longer emotionally connected. No longer doing business with each other. No longer having fun together. No longer just talking every once in a while. And the list goes on.
It is important to spend more time and thought managing these important relationships. The key to managing these relationships is staying connected on a regular, diarized basis, with a purpose.
But this is not easy. The key to all of this for me was the realization early on that in order for me to stay connected to the key relationships in my life, I needed to apply a science to this process. I couldn’t just ‘wing’ it
Regular, diarized, purposeful connecting. I use some technology but more often it is good old hand written notes to stay in contact with many people in my life. I have a section in my diary where I have write notes on conversations I have with key people in my life. This is especially effective when I meet new people or friends of friends or business contacts. I diarize birthdays, anniversaries of weddings that I attended, and even anniversaries of tragedies of those that I am close to. Each one of these dates are perfect opportunities to connect with friends. Professionally, I always try to get to know the person at a level that will give me an excuse or a reason to contact them at a later date. Over and above the follow-up on the sales opportunity it is always nice to connect in some way to follow-up on something important in their lives.
All of this will come very naturally to a salesperson or business development resource. I would hazard to guess though that these people would not be applying this process to their personal life. Those of us not in sales or business development will struggle with this, both in terms of a systematic approach and the execution.
So why? WITFM? Because maintaining healthy, interesting and fun relationships enhances our lives, our families, our work and our leisure time. And you really don’t know where and when someone that you have met, or worked with, or been introduced to, may present an opportunity that may be career-changing and/or life-changing.
So this is your challenge today. Think about the relationships in your life, prioritize them in terms of importance at this time, pick one or two, and develop a plan. Is your objective to become closer to this person, gain more business from this person, get through a difficult time with this person? Try applying a SWOT analysis: strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. This is the core to good strategic planning so why not apply it to something as important in our lives as our relationships with other people. Establish a goal, create a plan and execute.
The relationships in your life are worth it.