How to build relationships (way before you need them)

A lot of people are stressed by the idea of talking to someone they don't know, but people are the foundation of everything we do and it's an critical skill to develop and not to mention handy! Here are some ways I build relationships with people. Hope this helps:

  • Create projects that do good in the world and invite cool people, those I admire, to be part of them.
  • Volunteer to intern or work with someone for free. Make it worth their while (i.e. don't be a needy pain in the ass with no direction).
  • Interview them, tell them you want to ask them a few questions because you're interested. Better if you've already interviewed people in their circle and can mention this to them. This could be on a magazine, a blog or podcast, it doesn't much matter.
  • Do the above by emailing, using LinkedIn Inmail or calling.
  • Talk about things totally unrelated to business. My goal is to laugh a lot when I meet people. It doesn't always work but it makes for a more memorable connection, one that is easier to grow later on.
  • Send them information/stuff you know would be valuable to them. This works best if they already trust you, otherwise it sends up red flags screaming you want something. Maybe this is private interview you did with Oprah and no one has seen or tickets to a Broadway show.
  • Hang out at events that attract these kinds of people. Most meetups are not it. When there, learn to be fun and interesting. It doesn't mean you have to say a lot, it just means that when you say something, make it count.
  • Ask intelligent questions at conferences in front of really smart (or presumably smart) people. People will remember you and many times respect you because you actually spoke up and they were too scared.
  • Sit in the front row at events or near the speakers. Assume that's where you're going to sit. This doesn't mean arrogance... it assumes right presence.
  • Create a weekly lunch where you only invite 5 people, all of which need to know one another. Use that as a reason to meet people you don't know or have your current attendees bring a friend.
  • Once you know people, treat them like a friend. Be willing and excited to help them (this you can't and I'd argue shouldn't fake) and remember to call them up every once in a while. You'd call a friend on their birthday right? Care more than everyone else... it will show and it matters.

This isn't everything, but if you start with even just two, you'll notice a difference in how easy it becomes to meet and talk with people.