Here at Mindmaven, we believe the best things in life—both personally and professionally—come from your network; from those you know and trust.
But there’s a catch: It’s not just about people you know and trust. That’s only half the equation. Equally important are those that know and trust you.
That’s why it’s so important to continuously invest into your network. Many people assume this means time-consuming, long-game-focused interactions. But that isn’t always the case.
Let’s take a look at five simple relationship-enhancing strategies you can begin implementing today to achieve immediate and measurable results.
#1: Practice (and Preach) Intentional Positivity
During interactions and conversations with others, you probably think positive thoughts about the other person fairly often. For example:
- “That’s a really insightful way to look at the situation,”
- “Wow, she handled that ordeal really well,” or
- “I really admire the way he manages his team.”
But for most of us, those positive, uplifting, and empowering thoughts stay thoughts.
When you hold on to a thought like that, you cheat yourself out of a valuable opportunity to make the other person feel great about themselves. So the next time you think something genuinely positive about another person, let them know.
For example: Imagine you’re meeting with a client; a senior partner at a law firm. Also present at the meeting is a more junior associate and, during the conversation, the junior associate offers a unique solution to a problem.
You might think to yourself, “He’s really on the ball!” But instead of keeping that thought to yourself, share it! Say, “I think it’s great the way you’ve tackled this situation head-on.”
Even if their proposal isn’t ultimately used, you still made this person’s day by acknowledging their contribution. Moreover, you acknowledged their contribution in front of a senior partner, making the acknowledgement all the greater.
Mindmaven Pragmatics #1: Express Positivity During Your Next Interaction
The opportunity to voice positive thoughts often presents itself to us many times throughout the day, but we typically underutilize it.
Increase your awareness around this opportunities by making this commitment: Next time you have a great meeting with someone, let them know.
Send a follow-up email saying something to the effect of, “Hey, I really enjoyed our conversation. You had some really insightful perspectives. I hope we get the chance to do this again soon.”
For a step-by-step guide to writing great follow-up emails, check out How to Write a Great Follow-Up Email After a Meeting.
#2: Give Thanks (When it’s Least Expected)
It’s no secret that thanking someone is one of the easiest ways of showing appreciation. That’s why we often express thanks when we receive a gift or service.
And there’s nothing wrong with that: We should give thanks when thanks is due. But if you really want to deepen your relationships, express gratitude out of the blue; when people least expect it.
For example: Imagine six months ago, one of your clients introduced you to a marketing candidate after hearing you were hiring. Now, six months later, you’ve hired the candidate and they’re an absolute rock star.
Looking back, it’s obvious this wouldn’t have happened without the introduction from your client. Upon realizing this, you write a quick “thank you” email update and ship it off. The email will take them by (pleasant) surprise, and they’ll appreciate that you took the time to follow up with them.
This will also increase the likelihood that they’ll go out of their way to provide value to you again in the future.
Moral of the story? Anytime something good happens, reflect on who made that experience possible. Then reach out to them and give genuine thanks.
Mindmaven Pragmatics #2: Express Gratitude For Your Last Introduction
Think about the last person you were introduced to. Who made that introduction happen?
Identify that person, then send them a quick email expressing gratitude for the introduction. If you really want to make their day, share with them why that introduction was so valuable.
Want to learn how to make great introductions? Check out How to Make Introductions and Write Introduction Emails That Deliver Massive Value to Your Network.
#3: Tap into the Power of Smiling
Here’s a quick-and-easy exercise: Lift the outer corners of your mouth up in whatever way feels comfortable, and hold it for several seconds.
Now shift your attention inwards: What’s your current state of mind? How do you feel? Slightly more positive and relaxed? According to research out of Echnische Universität in Munich, Germany, smiling activates the “emotional circuitry” of our brain, creating those feelings of happiness and calm; even if we didn’t feel them before smiling.
And when we smile at someone, that smile is often reflected back at us; meaning not only do you benefit from a smile, but so does everyone around you.
Mindmaven Pragmatics #3: Practice Your Mona Lisa Smile
Before you enter your next meeting, repeat the smiling exercise I had you do earlier. This will make sure your mind is in a more positive, relaxed, conversational state. Here at Mindmaven, we call this slight smile the Mona Lisa Smile.
Then, a couple times through at the meeting—at appropriate times—practice your Mona Lisa Smile. This will likely cause the other person to smile back, elevating their emotional state as well.
Want to learn more about the power of smiles? Check out The Simplest Trick to Walk into Any Meeting Smiling.
#4: Stop Hoarding Value
Every day, we come across dozens of things we find valuable or entertaining. For example …
- Blog posts,
- Videos, or
But here’s the thing most people don’t realize: If you find something valuable, there’s a very good chance at least a few people in your network would find it valuable, too. What you just read, watched, or listened to could be exactly what someone else needs and, from that perspective, keeping it to yourself is selfish.
By sharing these pieces of content with your network, you establish yourself as a relevant and consistent source of value to the people you care about most.
Mindmaven Pragmatics #4: Share a Piece of Content with 5+ People
Think about the last piece of valuable content you consumed. What was it? Track it down, then ask yourself: “Who do I know that would find this valuable?”
Try to come up with at least five people who would benefit from that piece of content, then write a quick email sharing it with them.
I call these emails Value Payloads. Want to learn more about how to write them? Check out If You Think “This is Valuable,” Five People Will Feel the Same Way.
#5: Revitalize Dormant Relationships with a Quick Email
Go into your contact management system and find someone you haven’t emailed in awhile; someone who might appreciate hearing from you. Then write them an email!
This email doesn’t have to be anything fancy; sometimes just a simple, “Hey, just checking in. What’s new in your world?” is all it takes to spark a meaningful conversation.
To illustrate just how powerful this can be, let me share a true story from one of my clients. After learning that one of his former clients had recently made a career move and was now heading a 200-person team, he sent a quick email congratulating her.
That email arrived at just the right time, because she almost immediately replied saying, “I’m so glad you contacted me! I just took over this project and we really need your help.” That single email ended up generating a $5M deal between them.
Mindmaven Pragmatics #5: Send One Email a Day to Someone Who Wouldn’t Otherwise Have Heard From You
Is every email going to be a home run? No. But think of it this way:
If you send one new email a day for the next year, that’s at least 260 new emails that wouldn’t otherwise have been sent. And while there’s no guarantees when it comes to relationships, I feel pretty confident that at least one of those emails will lead to an opportunity you wouldn’t otherwise have had.
And, sometimes, one breakthrough opportunity is all it takes to justify the 259 emails that never got a response.
Not sure what to send? Check out our free eBook: The Five Freebies – Five Email Templates to Stay Connected to Your Network.
Invest into What Matters Most
Here’s my final challenge to you: Turn these five simple actions into daily habits.
If you consistently deliver these simple-but-meaningful interactions to your network, it’s only a matter of time until you start generating breakthrough opportunities.
But even if it takes months (or even years), you’ll still be developing deep, meaningful connections with the people in your life who matter most; and—opportunity generation or not—these relationships have the power to change your life.