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Questions from the field

In the last few years, I have spoken at several places and shared these concepts. At the end of each talk, I face many questions. I have compiled a partial list of those with my responses in this section.

Question #1: I don’t have time. Is there something that I can do fast?

Response: I wish I could say yes, but I am afraid I cannot. Building long-term relationships takes a long time. There are no shortcuts to this. Every relationship that you want to build will take away a piece of you. For the relationship to be meaningful, it requires your investment. There is one positive news, though. As you become more powerful, you will gain more leverage. With higher leverage, you can do things faster than someone else with lower power and leverage. So, start acquiring power and increase your leverage and you will have less complaints about lack of time.

Question #2: I help a lot, but nobody helps me back. So maybe in my case, your advice of investing first may not help.

Response: I am sorry to hear that. The power of reciprocation is unquestionable in all of our lives. It is actually strange to hear that it did not work in your case. But don’t give up.

Maybe you need to look at who you are helping. Maybe the people that are being helped don’t really think that you are helping. Maybe they are thinking that you are just doing your duty – and that they don’t need to give back anything. There is some soul- searching that you need to do now.

Question #3: How easy is it to build long-distance relationships?

Response: Not very easy. The principles are still the same. You have to add value (provide time advantage, performance advantage, or both) no matter where the other party is residing. With the current technological advances, the distance is definitely shrinking but you can never replace a handshake with a phone call or a video conference. To make up, walk the extra mile to strengthen long-distance relationships.

Question #4: How do I build relationships with people who are more powerful than I am?

Response: You want to build relationships with someone who is more powerful than you. That person wants to build a relationship with someone who is more powerful than him or herself. If you look at this chain and if the above logic seems valid, it will be impossible for anyone to build a strong relationship with someone more powerful than them.

Fortunately, there is help. However powerful a person is, he or she is working on one or more important projects and there is never a case where he won’t welcome new help, especially if it is substantial. Any powerful person can easily determine (usually in a very short time) whether you will be an opportunity or a liability for themselves. If you can prove that you can be an opportunity for the other person, why wouldn’t they want to engage in a relationship with you?

Question #5: How many people should I connect to in a year?

Response: Of course, there is no clear or absolute answer. From what I know of master networkers (or shall we say, master relationship-builders) they make north of 300 connections in a year. If that looks daunting, please don’t worry – they didn’t start there.

They got there by diligently working and investing in such relationships. It all takes time.

Question #6: I don’t have anything to contribute? Can I still build relationships?

Response: Yes you can. But would you be happy with relationships that won’t have anything to return to you? Anything in life that doesn’t contribute will get marginalized very quickly.

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