What if Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard had never gone with friends on the two-week camping trip in Colorado that launched their friendship? Or if Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield hadn’t been assigned the same seventh-grade gym class?
You never know when a casual encounter could become your Packard or Jerry. And since you can never know which relationships will result in great partnerships or business deals, you can’t afford to dismiss any casual encounter as unimportant.
Nurturing those encounters is a matter of relationship economics, and doing it well requires finessing the principles that Dale Carnegie laid out 75 years ago—and going one step further:
Really talk to spouses. If you’re building a relationship with someone, you’re also building a relationship with the people who are important to that person. At a dinner that includes spouses, engage with better halves.
Find unique, consistent ways to stay connected to their lives. Texting and e-mailing aren’t enough. Send a gift to their graduating children. Send handwritten congratulations to an award-winner. Give a copy of one of your favorite business books.
Move from transactional to transformational relationships by opening up. Go beyond news, sports and weather. Share what’s really important in your life. Presenting an “everything is perfect” veneer doesn’t earn trust.
Seek advice, not business. Asking what someone thinks isn’t just a tactic to stroke someone’s ego. If you think you have all the answers on your own, you’re kidding yourself. You can always benefit from the input of others.
— Adapted from It’s Not Just Who You Know, Tommy Spaulding.