I was speaking with a pastor several years ago about a relationship training course I was marketing. I encouraged her to bring in a diverse group, business people, medical folks and others to provide a good mix. Her response surprised me. She said she had visited a businessman recently and he had told her how important relationships were in his business. She was surprised as she had thought that business was just about selling and making money!
She may be more common in her thinking than we would like to believe. In my case, I have an extensive data base of people I know that I have accumulated for 40 years. It is the main source for business referrals for me and my most valued asset. I also try to refer business to those people and often contact them with problems I think they can help solve. Most of my list are “warm” manes, people I have worked with or know pretty well. Some are “colder” but I try to get to know those people over time. I would be lost without this list.
Everyone should build a list. It is too easy not to with the advent of computers, not like the old recipe cards or tattered phone books. I use Outlook for mine but there are more sophisticated data bases available that probably work better. All one needs to do is start collecting business cards from people and entering them in a data base. If you are creative enough to put them into categories for easy retrieval that is even better. I have categories for accountants, bankers, lawyers and others so I can send messages or letters to those people that apply specifically to them.
It is also very easy to transfer these to a PDA or phone so the people can be quickly found when you are out.
The key to this is to do it with the intent of helping each person you add. Done right they will also help you when you need it. I see no reason why a 30 something person would not have at least 500 or more “warm” contacts in their data base. It is especially valuable for job searches if and when we need a new job!