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Contacts vs. Relationships

Several weeks ago I was enjoying lunch with a friend, Bill J. While waiting for our meal to arrive and while engaged in casual conversation, I began feverishly scrolling through the contact list in my phone. With anguish, I stated that I was feeling incredibly frustrated that I cannot monetize all or most of the contacts here…and there are nearly 1500 contacts in my phone. Bill looked at me smiling and with unwavering wisdom, he said…”you can’t monetize a contact, Steve; you can only monetize a relationship”. A profound idea, eloquently stated. Bill explained that a contact is merely someone you may have met or someone to whom you’ve spoken – someone you may think of in terms of only a name. By contrast, a relationship suggests the state of being connected in some way. Relationships take time to evolve. They require effort, energy and attention – they need to be nurtured, they need time to cultivate – much like a plant, Bill explained further. Once a contact becomes a relationship, only then can the value of that relationship be realized.

Subsequent to this conversation with my friend, I felt mesmerized by the concept: contact vs. relationship. I was compelled to examine all of my relationships in an effort to understand their evolution. I realized that, initially, so many of these individuals were merely just contacts but that over time, many of them have been “cultivated” into very powerful and meaningful relationships.

Interestingly, I had met Bill J. at a political fundraiser some time ago. We spoke casually that evening, and as it often goes, we exchanged business cards and most likely, we both quietly assumed that we had met someone new to add to the “contact” list in our respective phones.

A few months later, however, we met for lunch. During easy conversation, we casually learned a few things about one another and as a result, we were each able to help the other, with a favor of sorts, that would be mutually beneficial. In retrospect, perhaps it was at that moment that the “contact” made during that political event was now evolving into a “relationship

What I have learned, simply stated, is that everyone we meet might be considered a contact.

When contacts can assess and appreciate the potential value they may offer for one another, it can create the perfect opportunity for a relationship to evolve. This is the ideal set of circumstances to monetize…to increase profitability. The potential for growth opportunity from just one contact can be infinite if a relationship can evolve from that contact. Your relationships are instrumental in attaining success. They can work for you!

Success coaching, undoubtedly, is relationship driven. Recently, I met with a prospective success coaching client. During our conversation, I took a few moments to relate this important concept of “contact vs. relationship” and impart my newly acquired wisdom. Although this young man is extremely talented in his field of work and has developed numerous relationships during his tenure, he admitted how difficult it can be to maintain many of those relationships. Though he understands that relationships are essential for increased business profitability, he had not consciously realized that the “contact vs. relationship” can work in reverse as well. What  this means is that if a relationship is not continually nurtured and cultivated,

or as my friend Bill J. would say, “watered with a little sunshine”, it will revert back into a contact. As we know, a contact is truly just a name. Transforming that contact, or acquaintance, into a valuable asset is the key…and that can be achieved with relationship building!



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