We know that social capital is denominated by relationships. That means the manifestation of social capital is the relationships we have. When these relationships are not nurtured, families can become isolated and insular.
So what creates strong and “sticky” relationships, whereby your family members, friends, colleagues, and clients stick around, even when times are tough?
The answer: Healthy and beneficial relationships are based on a mutuality of interests and common purpose. You will most likely become sticky with people who fit into one of two categories:
You Will Stick to Those Who Complement You
Your family can form strong relationships with people who have different but complementary perspectives, skills, or philosophical approaches. These people somehow make you a better person. In marriages, this might manifest as the most unlikely of couples. While one spouse might be highly social, the other might be reclusive. The highly social spouse is kept grounded by the recluse; the recluse brought out of his or her shell.
A family who is intentional about identifying and deploying resources can team up to develop strong relationships with other family members or associates who complement them. One cousin might be great at managing a tight budget; another is a visionary who loves to start new businesses. Particularly when it is packaged with complementary sets of knowledge, these two cousins could team up to create a powerful, fiscally solvent business.
You Will Stick to Those Who Share Your Values
You and your significant other probably share the same values when it comes to the big things, like raising children. You and your best friend might both love to spend the weekends hiking and golfing. In business, you are likely drawn to vendors, employees, and clients if you find common ground. If you are an avid golfer, you might be willing to pay a few extra dollars to a vendor who shows up happy, friendly, and ready to chat about your shared love of the game. And this vendor might have your back if you ever need to request a favor.
One way or another, what binds you to another person are the values that define that relationship, whether they are complementary or commonalities. For the relationship to have longevity, the values that are expressed must be a genuine set of values. Many people create these connections without being in conscious touch with their values. They might be able to form relationships with vendors, employees, clients, and business associates, but without a conscious connection to their values, many are unable to form truly sticky relationships. Vocalizing values is good but acting out those values is most important.
But cultivating relationships that can be leveraged, as they were in John’s case, can become powerful with that old word: intention.
By this, we mean that you stop “liking” the friends, family members, colleagues, and associates in your social network, and you start “committing” to them.
The only way for a person to feel your commitment, and thereby become sticky, is through your words and actions: You must honor commitments, go out of your way to build relationships and check in on people, and make sure that all of the people in your network know what your intention is due to the words you say and the actions you take. When was the last time you told a family member, friend or associate that you are glad they are a part of your life?
This means that you show up for your best friend’s son’s third birthday party. You ask your top vendor how his dog is doing. You call a professional associate to check on that deal you know that she was anxious to close. This is how you become “sticky.”