There are things that work and many more that don't. Let's discuss what we've experienced . . . not our opinions . . . but actually what our days and nights as marketers, business leaders, parents, people are teaching us. Please give us a hand. Tell us about your experience with this stuff.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Becoming Relevant

Why would someone want us around? What makes another person be interested in relating to us? And how can these connections have long term value?

Its a pretty simple game actually. People who are relevant to us for on-going and long term relationship possess one or more of these attributes:

1. They get us. These rare people have made it their business to know and understand me in a way that few do. Most often it is exhibited by their ability to understand my concerns, fears or needs. And oddly enough they seem to be able to forgive our idiosyncrasies and idiocies. No small thing that.
2. They are where we are. These individuals live with or speak about specific situations/content in a way that is authentic and experienced-based that leads me to believe that we are very similar. They don't have to listen to me, or in some cases even know me; I just want to have access to what they think and what they are working out. (If you have a number 1 who is also a number 2: walk away, you are a big winner.)
3. They listen to us and, oddly enough, seem genuinely interested. Mind you, they may not understand, but they want to. Oddly enough, we don't require someone to understand, we just require them to want to understand. . .to be about us a bit.
4. They choose us to relate to. This is the weirdest of the lot. We have no idea why they want to spend time with us and, many times, we may not see why we should be around them but we do.

There is a common denominator among these that is critical to all of our relationships (business or otherwise): in order for a relationship to be somewhat satisfying, the other person must show a consistent interest in us or an interest in what we believe helps to define us (our interests, needs, fears, ambitions).

So to become relevant to others we have to be about them. The bar is actually pretty low; we just need to turn our internal volume down and turn up the microphone that people speak into . . .and listen to them.

The hanging chad here is: what about the authentic me? Isn't there a place for my voice? Absolutely there is, but we need to spend a bit of effort finding that place and those people. Your head and your heart will tell you and magically, so will the people. All I ask is that you not give up too easily in this search. You will find the place and it will be worth it.

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