Have an Open Mind

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”
– Frank Zappa

In the last of our series on relationship and network building, today’s topic centers on being open to new people in your sphere. Too often, people dismiss the people they meet by immediately judging that there is nothing they can do for them.

First, that thought process is wrong. Thinking in terms of what someone else can do for you is not only limiting but disparaging to the other person. You want to approach new people with a clean slate, being open to what you don’t know.

Second, building relationships based on what others can do for you is counter to the philosophy of cultivating relationships. Instead, you should be considering what you can do for them. After all, how attractive is it to you to think that a new acquaintance is only interested in you because of what you can do for them?

Clearly, over time the strongest relationships develop some form of reciprocity. But remember that reciprocity doesn’t come in a one-for-one package. What you offer someone may be very different from what that person offers you.

The give and take that emerges in a balanced relationship needs to be nurtured. Express interest in what they share with you. Show your appreciation by following up. Thank them for their introductions to resources. Let them know how the resource helped you. Feedback will help them fine tune what or who they next send your way.

As we wrap up this series, I hope you have made or renewed some relationships during this month and that it spurs you to continue. Your contact with people in your network will ebb and flow, but they require nurturing. And you will learn the most in the act of nurturing, so remember to be open.

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