I’m the oldest of 6 kids.

And I’ve always been overly enthusiastic about my own ideas. Which of course means, I’m bossy a natural leader.

Whether I was organizing a backyard production of Cinderella with my siblings (and any other neighborhood kid lucky enough to enter my gravitational pull), or I was enlisting the playground girls for a war against the 3rd grade boys, my whole life has been about figuring out how to recruit others to do my bidding work together toward a common goal.

My father (in his infinite wisdom) saw an early need to funnel my bossiness leadership qualities in a positive direction. He gave me his copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and strongly suggested I read it. And read it, I did.

I may have skipped to the chapter called “How to Make People Like You Instantly.” But I went back and read the whole dang thing from cover to cover.

In fact, I devoured the book pretty quickly for a 12-year old. I also remember thinking, “Huh. So that’s how you do it.”

The advice seemed to work, because fast forward nearly 35 years and here I am to tell you that I wouldn’t be here without YOU. My business and this blog wouldn’t have grown nearly as fast without my network of friends and colleagues. And YOU are a part of that.

And not just because you might read something and share it once in awhile. Nope. Because on a more esoteric level, the version of me that exists right now in this particular time-space zone, exists precisely because of who YOU are — in all your glorious and imperfect beauty.

Stay with me here. I’m not going to say, “We are all ONE.” (It’s true, but I’m not going to say it.)

What I am going to say, is that our individual and collective experiences of life on this planet are the direct result of a feedback mechanism we normally call “relationships.” Relationships help us do many things. But mostly, they teach us about ourselves.

In my book, I start Chapter 6 with this bit of Ubuntu philosophy:

I am what I am because of who we all are.

To me, that means that without every single other being in this Universe, I could not exist. I wouldn’t know up from down, black from white, good from bad. There would be no contrast (as Abraham-Hicks likes to say).

For instance, without my relationship to Mr. Perfect, I would never know exactly how impatient I really am. Or how beautiful the world is.

If I were on my own, I could do whatever I pleased, whenever I pleased. I could travel the world, if that’s what I wanted to do. (Assuming I could finance it.)

But without him there to share the experience with me, the experience isn’t fully formed. It’s sort of that, “if a tree falls in a forest” question.

If you travel the universe and nobody’s there with you to witness it, how fun is that?

(A question that even The Doctor doesn’t want to know the answer to.)

A gorgeous sunset is one thing when you catch it on your way home from work. But it’s entirely something else when you’re watching it with someone you love and care about. Guess what?

Business relationships are like that, too.

A fully formed, thriving business only happens when you do it with someone else. With your customers, with your audience, with your peers, with your mentors. Nothing grows in a vacuum. There’s camaraderie, sure. But there’s also a bigger flow of creativity, richer ideas and more surprising innovations. There’s a larger reach. A deeper impact. There’s more of everything. If you’ve been in business for even a little while, you’ve figured that out already.

But knowing something and acting on it are two different things.


Concentric circles of my business relationships at the atomic level

Answer honestly: Are you taking full advantage of your business relationships?

How often do you partner up with other entrepreneurs on a project? Are you more worried about building traffic than you are with one-to-one conversations?

Do you ever think of the people on your email list as your tribe? (Or, are they simply “your list?”)

How do you handle your social media posts? Do you outsource and automate? Or are you there yourself, socializing and building relationships?

Are business relationships something you’re wishing for? or working actively to build?

And, Who do you go to in a business crisis?

Just like it’s good to have credit with the bank before you need the money, it’s also wise to have an inner circle of people who have your back before you need their help. And that can only develop over time.

My 4-Step Process to Manifesting a Tight-Knit Community

  • First, know what types of people you want to build relationships with. What kind of knowledge, skills, talents and taste in music do they have? You’ve created a profile for your ideal clients. Now create your own recipes for your ideal partners, mastermind group, you-name-it.
  • Second, be proactive about finding them. Set aside a few minutes every week to go a’ huntin. Show up where your people can most likely be found. Strike up a conversation or two.
  • Third, get to know people. Ask them to coffee — even if it’s by Skype. Find out what they do when they’re not being Ms. Entrepreneurial Superstar. Dig deep and ask them how you can help them get what they need.
  • Fourth, take action whenever possible. Be generous. Share yourself. Your ideas, your network, your support. Be a friend.

These four steps have allowed me to build up a fabulous network of folks over my lifetime — some with very close ties who I know will have my back in a crisis.

And that’s a good thing, cuz I’m gonna need their help very, very soon. (Stay tuned!)

What about you? What kind of folks are you looking for? Post your want ad in a comment below and let’s see if we can make some new friends!