Relationship ROI

Closing off yet another summer conference, this time venue managers (IAVM) in my hometown, I’m home sipping tea and reflecting with Pandora, my pets, and a few raindrops. Life is good.

I’m among the lucky, to really love what I do. Somewhere along the way, I’ve found that the substance of life and work is not so much the product or business (mine is software and tickets), but the connections along the way. This is something we can’t seem to hear enough about – relationships, networking, and connections. But there’s a frenzy with some – gotta connect to get the next sale or business deal.

That’s missing out completely. It’s so easy to see those who are ‘working a room’ and separate them from those who really enjoy the people side of whatever you do. I spent a couple of hours last night at a closing party at the Arizona Science Center, literally playing with my own team and a long-time client who feels much more like a friend than anything. We laughed, jumped, giggled, and let off a lot of steam without exchanging a single card or talking tickets. Just played.

I’m pretty sure there are amazing people to meet in every line of business. Those who have the chance to get out, travel, meet new friends, and build connections will gain much more than a new deal. This is the intersection of life and business. Connections just for the sake of connections.  Enjoying people, just because you do.

This week, I hugged a fierce competitor (several times!), spent time with other suppliers that have nothing to do with my business, had a warm conversation with someone who recently didn’t select my company over another (the one I hugged, actually), introduced myself to a big-name promoter, just because I wanted to meet him, and shared ideas freely with other suppliers.  And laughed.

The way I see it, life is just too short to draw lines in the sand with relationships, trying to decide what kind of profit I may gain from any one connection. It sounds so shallow just writing it – and yet, we’re all surrounded by superficial and phony connections that leave us returning to our rooms at night feeling empty, instead of inspired.

What’s the ROI of any relationship? How does it inspire? Make both of us better? Encourage the other person? Open me to new ideas? God forbid I spend years in an industry void of true friends and the respect of my colleagues. That to me is wealth the way I want it.

I’m naïve enough to think that, by the way, this works both for business and life. Let the mashup begin.

By the way – I’ve erased the lines between business and friends and invite anyone to join me on Facebook. Just for fun. Just because we can. And just because you and I might be better for knowing each other a little better.


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