Growing a beautiful plant takes care, time and efforts. So does building a real relationship with a person. So do startups. So does anything in life.
How does one bring the intimacy and personal touch of in-person meetings to digital conversations and relationships? How would you go about making sure that you are much more than just one another follower retweeting, sharing, and liking the content of people you want to build a relationship with?
And, when I say "get to know them", I do not mean "leverage them to get a referral or get them to forward your resume for an internship."
What I mean is that when you try to connect with someone, do it to really get to know them, learn from them, get inspired by them and help them.
Trust me, the return on every relationship is tenfold if you approach it with the right intentions. If done rightly, you would not have to ask for any favors.
That person will do everything you could ever ask for all by himself or herself.
Why would they do that?
They would do it if their is some trust and intimacy in your relationship with them. People like helping authentic people.
I will share a story of how I nurtured a relationship with an influencer.
Growing a relationship is like growing a plant.
Here are the steps to growing relationships (and plants). --
Making a decision to grow a plant
Before buying seeds, you need to decide what plant you want to grow.
A couple months ago, I got really interested in learning more about the concept of mastermind groups. I started googling. I read an interesting article on Mastermind groups on Harvard Business Review. It was very insightful.
I decided I want to get in touch with Dorie Clark, the author of that article ( decided to grow a plant ).
Select your seeds
Once you have made a decision to grow a plant, the first step is selecting the right seeds. This step is very crucial since it determines how the plant will turn out.
Once you have made a decision to build a relationship with someone, the first step is reaching out.
The reach-out involves various seeds or components that collectively form a warm, purposeful and personalized message.
In simple terms, seeds refer to the ideas you want to talk about in your reach-out. In my case, with Dorie Clark, it was mastermind groups and her philosophy on bringing people together.
Prepare other supplies and learn more about the seeds
In order to grow a plant appropriately, you you'll need a few supplies to ensure proper germination of your seeds.
In relationship building, it is essential to do your research on the seeds (read as components of your reach-out) and gather supplies (adequate talking points) before you actually hit send on the email.
I googled Dorie Clark, the writer of the HBR article, and found out that she is a branding expert and an author of two best-selling books. I read up more articles by her. I studied her social media profiles. I jotted down how I would elaborate on the talking points (seeds) and why I am choosing those seeds in particular for building a relationship with her.
Planting Your Seeds
This is the most important step for growing a plant and a relationship.
Nuances involved vary depending on the plant ( type of relationship you want to build with the other person you are reaching out to) and the seeds (components of your reach out).
I reached out to her appreciating her work and told her how her ideas resonated with the ideas in a book I was reading. I also mentioned I found her HBR article very insightful and how I was trying to create an online mastermind community called Fascinating Exchanges.
(I mentioned what I was doing only because I knew she was big on bringing people together from my research.)
This sowed the seeds of an authentic relationship.
Water your seeds regularly and keep your seeds warm
Now once the seeds are sown, you got to nurture them warmly with adequate supplies.
Relationships go cold if you don't genuinely care enough. You need to keep them warm by constantly adding value and personal touch to all the interactions you have with the other person.
I constantly keep on top of articles and social media updates by Dorie Clark. I do it not to to be able to randomly retweet and share them to kiss up to her. I do it because I truly learn a lot from her work. She pumps out so much content because she wants to inspire others. And, its truly working for me.
She talks a lot about how introverts can build relationships. I am an introvert myself. Her ideas truly speak to me.
Credibility plays a big role in deepening a relationship. I had a chance to speak with someone who truly admires and is friends with Dorie Clark on the phone. I brought Clark her up in my conversation and we spoke about her work for a minute. After the conversation, I made sure to let Clark know about that phone conversation. That adds credibility. And it also shows how you are trying your best to genuinely evangelize their work.
In order to show my gratitude for the time and efforts she has invested in her relationship with me, I support her in building her personal brand by sharing her work within my networks. I also wrote an article where I quote her and mention her teachings (And mentioning her here again). I also sent her a letter. She appreciates that.
With time, you develop some level of mutual trust and intimacy.
She has been a great mentor and has advised me on a lot of different steps I have taken in the past couple months.
Sowing seeds is the simple part. What you do after the seeds start germinating is what really matters.
It all about being resourceful, thoughtful and creative in figuring out why the other person would be interested in having a relationship with a confused college student.
For growing many such plants, one needs to be a proactive learner.
I turned a random google search into a mentor.
Anyone can google. Everyone can read and reach out. Hence, anyone can build relationships.
Anyone with genuine care, appreciation and respect for others can build relationships, find mentors and build a web of connections that funnel knowledge, advice and feedback back to you.
Here is an article that shows how curiosity can help you find business partners and inner circle members.