As I was preparing today to head out to one of my favorite masterminds–and seeing my latest flight getting cancelled due to today’s “Nor’easter,” “Bomb Cyclone” or whatever this Connecticut snowstorm is being called– I should have been relieved.
What a great excuse to stay home, watch a good movie and avoid all the extra gluten and sugar that is part of every airport’s fine cuisine.
But I am bummed.
Maybe it’s the fact that I have a terminal disease called, “FOMO” (“Fear Of Missing Out”)…although I happen to have a more acute version called “TOMS” (“Terrified Of Missing Sh#t”).
However, I believe the real reason I wanted to get on that plane is that I am a mastermind junkie, a people junkie, a lifelong student…but as you may know, I’m also a guy who still hates “networking” so that was not one of the reasons my TOMS kicked in.
“Contributing to connect” is what fuels me…and it’s much better doing that in person than via email or phone…although until I get a new flight, I’ll do my best hunkered down in my basement, computer and phone at the ready.
I was reminded of a piece I wrote not too long ago called, “The compound interest from relationship capital” when I saw that it was reprinted in an online magazine in LinkedIn last week…and reading it again (now that I missed my plane and I had time) I wanted to share parts of it in case you missed it.
The root cause of my FOMO/TOMS disease is that I can never get enough great content from great people; and also that I can’t begin to calculate the value of being a lifelong student and the friendships and relationships I’ve developed over almost four decades living with this wonderful disease.
And then there’s all of the frequent flier miles I’ve accumulated too.
Those of you who are mastermind/content/people/learning junkies know what I’m talking about.
“Contributing to connect” is very different than “networking” as I said above…let me explain.
One of my earliest blog posts from 2014 was a response to many people asking me after the “Titans of Direct Response” event:
“How did you get all of those guys to speak?”
And for those of you who are not aware of the lineup of speakers, there were some pretty big names who showed up.
I can admit to you now that making those requests was completely painless (and incredibly gratifying).
How did that happen?
I could simply chalk it up to the fact that I’m a nice guy, always appreciative and respectful.
But I knew it had to be more than that.
The event was a tribute to my mentor Marty Edelston. His stature in the industry as a legendary contributor didn’t hurt on getting folks to step up.
And at the time I actually chalked it up mostly to that which made a lot of sense to me.
But since then, as I have brought together some of the most amazing direct response marketers and copywriters in as members of my two mastermind groups, and then brought guest speakers to those groups who are equally accomplished, I suspected there was something more here.
It’s called “relationship capital.”
You may find this hard to believe but this form of capital is way more valuable than any bank account, bond or equity portfolio–or even your latest investment in Bitcoin.
Relationship capital is forever and what you “buy” with it does not have to be stored or displayed…although it needs to be nurtured…and it is an investment for a lifetime.
And it also has nothing to do with getting rich quick. It’s about getting rich slowly.
Another bonus: Relationship capital travels well and it is accepted everywhere.
So how does this very special currency get deposited into your personal account and then accumulate compound interest over time?
First, let’s explore how it doesn’t happen.
It has nothing to do with trying to build the largest Linked In or Facebook account…and it doesn’t happen by contacting people only when you want something or need something.
And it doesn’t happen by accident.
Here’s how it does happen:
Being committed to consistent communication…always thinking about contributing to the other person first…and always being interested, not interesting.
Without playing a long game of contribution first, “new deposits” into your account might as well be Monopoly money.
There’s no “interest” accumulated when you are simply playing a numbers game with your contacts, only going a mile wide and not thinking about how you can go a mile deep with each one.
Note: You can think about the clients and customers that you only communicate with electronically or as a large group this way as well…relationship capital can be accumulated even with people you will never talk to or meet.
The best marketers I know are very often folks with the most relationship capital. They are “interested” all the time whether they are selling or not.
They are also “interested” in helping, giving advice, interning for little or no money…basically giving with no expectation of a return immediately.
The benefits of living life this way will show up…maybe not immediately…but they will show up when you least expect it.
Success leaves clues.
It’s no wonder that the most successful people we all know have the most relationship capital…and they never have to re-calculate or check their balance. It’s there because they have this philosophy.
I know how hard it can be to maintain focus on the other person given the conversations going on our heads all day about the most important person in our lives: Us.
Those are the voices we hear all day telling us how interesting we are…the “legends in our own mind” thing.
That’s why I recommend that you have people around you all the time who will make you accountable…and tell you to shut up when “it’s all about you.”
I talked in the past about making sure you have true friends and mentors who make you accountable so you don’t always assume your next idea is your best idea ever.
Today I will add that making requests for accountability from your closest friends, advisors and coaches regarding how you are showing up for people is also critically important—that is, getting some checks and balances on when you are overdoing it on the “interesting over interested” scale.
Being quiet once in a while is always a quick way to get back on track.
That’s one I’ve been told I need to do more.
Put more succinctly, there are two things that I suggest you eliminate for maximum yield on your relationship capital:
Complacency and arrogance.
If you are too complacent (not engaging and being interested in the other person) or if you are arrogant (being a bit too interesting and having it all be about you), you need to be slapped around a bit.
You can’t invest in relationship capital if either of those things are getting in the way of how you contribute to everyone around you.
I know from experience that these two things (and I’m sure you can think of others for yourself), will stop you from creating a bigger future for yourself.
And since I don’t trust myself 100% to be aware all the time if either of those two things are creeping in, I surround myself with people who have permission to let me know immediately (and loudly) if I am becoming complacent and/or arrogant…with love never leaving the room while they are letting me know.
Here’s the quick prescription for building your “relationship capital account” which automatically includes compound interest:
1) It’s always about what you can contribute first to the other person not what you can attain from them.
2) Be appreciative and respectful always…I guess that’s pretty obvious…but good manners never go out of style.
3) Don’t come out of nowhere with your communications to anyone…be consistent…and certainly don’t come out of nowhere with an “ask” no matter how small.
4) Have people around you to let you know when you are being complacent…firmly…and without beating around the bush.
5) Have people around you to let you know when you are being arrogant…firmly…and with this one, a kick in the head might also be in order
6) Do your homework when entering into any new “investment” (i.e. relationship)…you probably ask a ton of questions before investing your money…why wouldn’t you ask as many (or more) when bringing another awesome human into your world?
7) Whenever you are stressed, go to “blessed”…and always start from a place of gratitude, not envy.
I wrote in the past about how “envy kills” and I repeat it every Thanksgiving. It’s too important to not repeat often.
And love everyone around you and truly care whether it’s a holiday or not.
A relationship capital account that has the highest value doesn’t happen easily and it doesn’t happen without putting in a lot of time and effort…and it must be valued as a privilege and not simply an asset.
Cherish it and nurture it as you make additional “deposits” every day.
With all the analogies to relationship capital as something with the highest value, I need to repeat this again:
“Your relationship capital is not an asset but a privilege”
Good luck with your investments!
(And wish me luck getting on a plane out of here to re-invest and add some value to my account too)