There’s no question that success in business, and in life, often comes down to who you know, not what you know. This became especially apparent to me after spending time with one of the best-connected individuals I’ve ever met. From birthdays with U2’s Bono to long-time friendships with tech billionaires, this entrepreneur has created a network so strong that he can make anything happen in two phone calls or less.
Having observed the lives of remarkably successful people, I am convinced that creating a network of meaningful relationships is integral to their success. Whether you’re building a business or a nonprofit, deep connections allow you to create impact faster and on a larger scale.
Great networks don’t grow on trees. You can’t buy them on Amazon or find them on LinkedIn. To build the best network, you must develop meaningful relationships.
These five habits will help you foster the sort of relationships that will lead to a powerful network.
1. Be generous
The best relationships are built on a mutual desire to give value to the other person. When both parties are more focused on giving than receiving, it fosters a genuine bond that goes deeper than the value of the exchange. That bond is based on mutual trust that each of you wants what is best for the other.
Generosity takes many forms. It can be as easy as making an introduction, lending an ear or giving the gift of your expertise.
2. Listen well
Everyone wants to be heard and understood, which is why listening is the foundation for any meaningful relationship. Authentic listening signals that you are genuinely interested in the other person and what he or she has to say.
Part of being a good listener is developing self-awareness and noticing if you are truly engaged in the conversation. One of the easiest and fastest ways to be a better listener is to stop interrupting.
3. Treat others how you want to be treated
You can be as smart, talented and ambitious as you want, but none of that matters if you have a bad reputation. Building a positive reputation takes time and is vital to building meaningful relationships. As a mentor once told me, “You only get one last name. Don’t tarnish it.”
The best way to build a stellar reputation is to consistently treat others in the same way you want to be treated. It sounds easy, but it’s surprising how few people remember this golden rule. If you need some help, focus on developing the traits of likable people. Doing so will help you to model your behavior to be aligned with the golden rule.
4. Celebrate others’ accomplishments
I still remember when my friend wrote me an email to congratulate me on a partnership announcement for SkyBell. It made me feel incredible, and it affirmed that part of developing strong friendships is acknowledging the accomplishments of your friends.
Become a fan for your friends when they announce big news. Even something as simple as a quick congratulations on social media can show others that their accomplishments do not go unnoticed. Of course, a phone call or in-person celebration is even better.
5. Focus on quality
No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot add more hours to your day. This is why successful people focus on fostering a few key relationships, rather than spreading their time across as many people as possible. Quickly adding more connections might make you feel more productive, but the best networks are created through depth, not breadth.
Meaningful relationships are built with intention, sincerity, honesty and generosity. There are no shortcuts. If you make the five habits listed in this article a way of life, you will build meaningful relationships that fuel your professional success and add happiness to your life.