The phrase, “No man is an island,” certainly rings true when it comes to achieving your personal and professional goals. No matter how motivated you are, there will always be others in the world that hold the information or connections needed to help you achieve your aims.
But instead of bemoaning how unfortunate it is that you weren’t born with all the skills needed to succeed, take control of your life by finding and building relationships with the people who can help you to get what you want out of life.
Here’s a simple step-by-step process to help you get what you want by getting to know the right people:
Step #1 – Identify your needs
Obviously, simply knowing that you need to improve the caliber of the people in your life in order to achieve your personal and professional aims isn’t enough to bring about these changes automatically. In fact, it takes time to hone in on the right people who can help you get what you want and to build the necessary relationships with these acquaintances to create meaningful change in your life.
As a result, your first step must be to identify the specific needs in your life that others can help you achieve. For comparison, consider that –while learning to cook meals at home might help you to live a healthier lifestyle – this task can largely be completed on your own. On the other hand, if earning membership into an exclusive club or society would significantly increase your odds of landing a better job, putting your effort into building relationships with existing members could have a major impact on your life.
Above all, think about your priorities. Of the specific needs you’ve identified that others can help you achieve, focus on building only 1-2 relationships at a time, beginning with those that will make the biggest difference in your personal or professional goals.
Step #2 – Identify the people who can help you meet these needs
Once you’ve decided which types of relationships to build first, you’ll need to narrow down your relationship targets to a few potential candidates. Depending on how familiar you are with the resources in your community, this could be easy – or it may require a certain amount of research in order to determine who to approach.
However, as you build your lists, you’ll want to have a few options in mind. Not everyone that you approach will have the time or inclination to support you in the way that you need – which is why it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan before moving on to Step #3!
Step #3 – Build your new relationships
Now that you’ve clarified the needs you have and identified the candidates who can best help you fulfill them, it’s time to start building your relationships!
There are a few things you’ll keep in mind when interacting with your new acquaintances:
- Be clear about your intentions – If you’re attempting to build a relationship with someone in order to gain access to a separate group (as in the example above), don’t try to hide it. While you don’t want your first impression to come across too strong, camouflaging your true intentions until you can “cash in” on the relationship will leave your new contact feeling used.
- Give more than you get – The foundation of any good relationship is a certain amount of give-and-take. If you’re expecting your new acquaintance to do something for you, you’d better be willing to turn around and offer something else of value to your contact. It doesn’t need to be an “exact match,” tit-for-tat type of exchange, but it is important to be sure that both parties benefit from your arrangement.
- Respect your contact’s time – These days, we’re all busy. So if someone goes out of his way to help you get something that you want, be thankful for the sacrifice he’s making. At the very least, try to avoid being too pushy about achieving your aims. By respecting your contact’s time, you’ll keep the relationship going strong – leading to potentially greater benefits down the road.
In general, approach building relationships with the people who can help you achieve your goals as you’d pursue a new mentor or friend. Be yourself, and focus on being the type of friend or mentor you’d like to have. In time, your efforts will pay off in the form of relationships that help you to obtain the information or connections you need to reach your goals.
Step #4 – Focus on consistently improving your network
They say that surrounding yourself with people who can help you achieve your goals is one of the fastest ways to become truly successful, so don’t just look for people who can help you to meet a single, specific need. Try to surround yourself with people who empower you and help you to make the most out of each day.
By constantly improving the value of your network – whether that includes seeking out a more supportive partner, more goal-oriented friends or stronger mentor-mentee relationships – you’ll make a significant difference in the quality of your life.