The way in which we communicate with each other has been revolutionised over the past two decades, and in an age of social media, brevity is considered best. Why waste your time picking up the phone when a quick email will do? They will get the message – they probably won’t read past the first line anyway.
This has enabled us to become more productive (i.e. fit more into our days), but as with most things, there is a less positive flip side:
The quality of any relationship is directly proportionate to the time invested in it.
As an executive search consultant who has followed many senior executives through their career paths, there are only a few who have truly spent the time to get to know me in return. I realise that a recruiter’s services may not be required so regularly, but with these specific individuals, it didn’t even seem relevant. They invested the time to let me into their world, and you know for sure that they will do the same with anyone else, no matter what their seniority or position.
When you prioritise people in the present, you will be able to reap the rewards in the future. When you adopt this attitude, it doesn’t matter exactly when your investment will come to fruition, sooner or later you will realise that on balance, spending time on nourishing your relationships will be well worth it.
Every relationship has the potential to open a myriad of doors in the future.
I had an interesting chat with the MD of one of my clients the other day. We were discussing the value of regularly sowing new seeds, and she was telling me that she always took phone calls from cold callers. It didn’t matter what industry they were from, she made time for an initial chat and made sure that she connected with them on social media. She then went on to attribute this approach to multiple new business leads and millions of extra revenue. In our time-starved world, when you let people into your life, they remember you.
It is the same with communicating with colleagues. You might not think that it is worth connecting with people outside your department, office or geographical region, but you never know when these nascent relationships could blossom. Maybe your Berlin office are doing amazing things with their marketing, and you would like to follow their lead – if you have warm relationships in place, the wheels are already greased.
Some people adopt a feast / famine approach to broadening their network. When they need people, they reach out to them, but when they let these relationships slide, it is that bit harder to reignite them the next time that they are needed. The best careers are aided and abetted by a wide (and supportive) network of people who care about how you are doing. Of course, you have to care about them first, and this does take significant time and effort, but in my view, it makes working life all the richer.
When you take your time with people, they will take their time with you.