I’m a creative person at heart. And among the many lessons I’ve learned over the years about creativity is that the really stellar aha’s and ideas and the really profound and impactful work have one huge requirement: time.  Time to relax. Time to think. Time to not think. Time (as my late friend and mentor Anne Durrum Robinson would put it) to cogitate.  And of course time to do the necessary work as you execute the idea.

Networking, connecting, and building solid relationships can have similar requirements.

Just as you can’t force a great idea to surface or coax a plant to grow any faster than it is meant to grow, you can’t rush or take shortcuts as you build relationships. They will always require time if they are to be of the highest quality. But there are a few things you can do to help things along and be more intentional about the process. Here are a few:

  1. Set your intentions. Take a few minutes to figure out what kinds of relationships you really want, business or personal.
  2. Be clear and detailed. Describe them (preferably in writing) in detail; keep a list or even a journal of these descriptions.
  3. Be aware. Figure out and pay attention to where you meet the people who fit your criteria.
  4. Watch for patterns. How did introductions, conversations, and connections that “worked” and were satisfying and memorable come to be?
  5. Recreate them. Try to repeat those circumstances or plan to be where they can take place.
  6. Be authentic and sincere always. Never be someone you’re not.
  7. Honor the process. Give plenty of time, space, and patience to connections and relationships that hold promise.
  8. Yet, do your part. Take inspired action to nurture promising relationships carefully through thoughtful communication, follow-ups, follow-throughs, kindnesses, generosity, and the right level of tenacity.
  9. Never push or press. And (God forbid) don’t stalk!  Allow coincidence, divine timing, synchronicity and serendipity to unfold.
  10. Show appreciation and gratitude.
  11. Maintain your best relationships.
  12. Repeat steps 1 through 11.

Follow these guidelines and see what happens.  What would you add to this list?
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Have you heard?  My book, The Intentional Networker(tm): Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business,  took the top prize for non-fiction at the IndieReader Discovery Awards last month in New York City. It was also a Finalist for ForeWord Reviews 2011 Book of the Year.  To order your limited-edition copy, complete with commemorative award medallions, click here.