Tony Adam

Entrepreneur, Marketer, Aspiring Polymath


Keys to building quality relationships and things to avoid

February 18, 2009 27

I could go on and on for hours about how people abuse relationships because I am sooo passionate about the topic. Within Internet Marketing, I have developed some solid relationships with and would work with them, partner with them, and/or hang out with them at the drop of a dime. The problem here is that there are people that don’t understand there is big difference between someone that is a contact vs. someone that you have established a relationship with and the value of that relationship.

Relationships versus Contacts: Quality is the key

I’m a networking machine and I like to meet people, that’s just how I am built. I look for ways that I can help people and/or look for ways that we can help each other out. There are a variety of ways to do this, whether through learning and education, partnerships, or referrals. That said, I need to establish relationships with the people that I meet. Granted, I do meet a lot of people and I do have a contact list, but, I am not here to win a “popularity” contest, have a large amount of Twitter followers, or friends on Facebook. To me, that is not what this is all about, there is more to it than sheer numbers.

The real value is in the quality of the relationship and not the quantity of contacts.

Building up a lot of followers on Twitter or a huge friends list on Facebook is fine, do it if you have to, but realize that you are really just playing a popularity game and not creating opportunities or relationships, especially if your goal is solely in the numbers. I have added a ton of people in the past and then groomed/weeded people in/out of my friends list on Social Platforms and in life, but, the ones that I keep are great relationships and partnerships that have thrived.

The people that I have established relationships with have led to great career opportunities, partnerships, knowledge, and most importantly, long lasting friendships. This is not something that you will get by only going for the quantity of contacts and trying to win some sort of popularity contest or ego driven “grader” application.

Relationship & Perception Killers: Social Capital, Trading up & Burning Bridges

As I mentioned above, there is a group of people that are all about ego stroking and popularity contests, it is an inevitable fact of life. With that comes interesting attempts at leveraging “Social Capital” or “Trading up” without the care of burning a bridge. I’ve run into this many times in my career where I have either been used for access to the relationships I have created, to provide knowledge to the individual, or in a partnership to create opportunity.

I bring this up because I am starting to see more and more individuals like this sprouting up within the Internet Marketing, Social Media, and Technology communities. These people go to events, parties, and participate in Social Media sites for the sole purpose of using them for only personal gain, ego stroking, or popularity. The key takeaway is that the individual does not take value in the relationship built, thus trading up and burning a bridge.

People like this have no problem “trading up” for new contacts for friendships because they have not vested anything into the current ones they have. They saw a value that could be used or leveraged, took advantage of this, and now have no reason not to burn the bridge that they have created. I can’t and never will understand this form of deception and personally am appalled by it.

Also, as it related to being popular, there really doesn’t leave much time for actually achieving any goals and/or providing value within the industry you are in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t have fun and enjoy life, but there is a time and place for everything. At the end of the day, in my opinion, it is about what you do and the relationships you’ve created and not how popular you are.

This isn’t only related to partying and the offline social scene as well. Think of the time you spend on Twitter and Facebook. If you are spending enormous amounts of time on Social Platforms like these without actually thinking of or caring about the actual value within it, you are wasting away your days. Social Media is about the conversation, but that doesn’t mean to over do it, think of it like parties and events, if you are over doing it, when are you actually going to get anything done.

Lets put this to the test in the case of a startup. I was having this conversation with someone I respect in the technology industry and it came up. If the owner/founders of a startup are spending ridiculous amounts of time on partying, drinking, only building social capital, and/or rotting away the days on Facebook, it is going to be very hard for your startup to prove value or change the perception of your worth. Imagine the stakeholders and/or people that are funding your business, won’t they be questioning the decision making? Assume you have done a “friends and family round” of raising capital, how do you think that bridge is going to hold up if you haven’t treated it with respect or as a relationship that you care about.

Remember, it is one thing to have fun and enjoy life, but, it’s another to be attempting to win a popularity contest. When it comes down to it, using your time wisely, being efficient, and getting shit done is the most important thing in life, bottom line. (Remember, these are my opinions, you can agree and/or disagree as you wish.)

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There are 27 comments

  • paige craig says:

    Solid post Tony! Social spammers chasing numbers (followers, friends,etc.) are largely doomed to personal and professional failure. Quality relationships – with people, brands, communities are key. You’ll cut down on your social clutter, have more bandwidth and – amazingly – you’ll actually derive happiness and value from these relationships.

  • […] See the original post:  Keys to building quality realtionships and things to avoid […]

  • Tony Adam says:

    Thanks Paige! Definitely agree with you on that. Chasing popularity or a large ego is definitely going to hurt you both personally and professionally once people see through it! It’s about the solid relationships you build and learning to help each other out, bottom line.

  • Hey Tony! You nailed it. Although it’s interesting; I think some people have the opposite problem, too. I’m not gifted as a natural networker — I’m always trying to make sure I know a person before adding them to my social network. I’ve also struggled with how much of myself to put online while enjoying the benefits of people watching. I’m realizing this isn’t the most effective tactic. As you said, it’s about the give-and-take value, and you gotta give it up before you can expect to see rewarding relationships. Living and learning!

  • Nice post Tony.

    btw, massive typo in the title 😉

  • Marc Vermut says:

    Tony, great post. And totally agree with Virginia: I only connect with people I’ve met IRL or with whom I’ve had actual communications (be it email or Twitter or carrier pigeon). As with most things in life, it’s a choice between building slow, long-term value or “gaming” the system for a quick score.

  • Ryan Born says:

    One thing that I find hard is returning favors. Sometimes as you network, you find yourself gaining valuable knowledge and information from someone and yet you seem to have little to offer in return to them, despite the fact that you’d really like to return the favor. It can seem like a one sided conversation though it’s not intended to be.

  • Thorne says:

    RE: “Also, as it related to being popular, there really doesn’t leave much time for actually achieving any goals and/or providing value within the industry you are in.”


  • Bev says:

    Well put!

    I’m glad someone [ @lorenbaker ] twittered me in your direction. I’ll be checking out more of your posts and twitters. Thanks!


  • Tony,

    Great post. Like most things in life, it’s about Quality over Quantity. I would rather have a network of 15 people that I trust and can build relationships with than 1500 followers that I know very little about much less their name.

    The true value of social networking is to actually network and engage with your audience. I see a lot of people preach this but do not follow their own advice.

  • Laura says:

    SUCH a great post Tony. So true.

  • I think this is an important and useful post. Many people today become so obsessed with having as many “friends” as possible on social networking sites that they barely know half these people! I think an important thing to remember here is quality over quantity. It’s better to have fewer but solid online relationships than hundreds of acquaintances, just for the sake of seeming popular.

  • I agree, what good are all those contacts in your twitter account if none of them pay any attention to you. I think some people do it just for bragging rights.

  • gammill says:

    Tony, Great post. Here are a few of my thoughts for your readers to ponder:

    Value – focus on creating what is most valuable to you. I personally I’ve focused more on Intellectual Capital as I find it is harder to find ‘smart as hell’ people. That is not so say well connected people aren’t critical, its just about understanding what network you want to build. Personally, I think people with both Intellectual Capital and Social Capital are the most impressive.

    Networks – not all value is exposed on the social web. Most all of my most valuable connections can’t be ‘seen’. They are barely on LinkedIn, don’t blog and laugh at Twitter. But they can help me make shit happen. If you are new to the scene or networking game, be smart about this one – you may be missing some great connections if you are only focused on numbers ; )

    Quids – think about Quid Pro Quo. You don’t have to have something you can bring to the table immediately, but just show that you give a damn by asking “anything I can do to help you?” Pretty simple.

    BOTTOM LINE -An ecosystem is MOST dependent on many successes. Plain and simple. So, while you are out networking do what you can to help people succeed – it will ensure we can all continue to have fun here in SC!

    • Tony Adam says:

      Doing some bulk replies, sorry I hadn’t had a chance to reply to you all till now!

      Marc, totally agree with your point, but, I do happen to add people I haven’t met yet, but I know I will have the opportunity to meet to create those real connections and relationships!

      Ryan, I think Chris answered this best, there isn’t always an opportunity to help immediately, but, sometimes just being like “you know i’m here if ya need a hand” or “how can i help you out” is all someone needs to feel like the relationships is prosperous. It’s not a tic for tac, rather its about creating meaningful relationships!

      Freelance SEO, Bev, and Laura … Really glad you guys liked the post! Hope to see you guys back here soon! I really thoroughly enjoyed writing this one up.

      Nick, Rachel, it’s a bit like high school and the prom queen/king theory…is it all about a popularity contest? I don’t think so, that’s why I wrote the post, its important, as we both believe, to have quality over quantity.

      Chris (a.k.a. Gammill), what can I say, you get it man! ’nuff said! 🙂

  • Jonny T says:

    Tony, Great post. You hit the nail on the head with this one and a lot of people avoid this very “idea” because they themselves fall into the greed of attaining social media popularity by just focusing on the sheer mass in numbers (followers). Sometimes I just want to call these people out.

  • […] my friend Tony Adam writes of the relationships he has built, The people that I have established relationships with have led to great career opportunities, […]

  • […] Tony Adam wrote a blog post about a common issue he’s noticed on the social networking front. Too many […]

  • […] Keys to building quality relationships – How to build relationships within Internet marketing. […]

  • […] my friend Tony Adam writes of the relationships he has built, The people that I have established relationships with have led to great career opportunities, […]

  • […] my friend Tony Adam writes of the relationships he has built, The people that I have established relationships with have led to great career opportunities, […]

  • […] your consultancy/agency new business. Remember, that you shouldn’t treat people as contacts, create relationships […]

  • In business, the ultimate goal is to get the relationship out of your contacts. Solid relationships builds a solid foundation for the business. The power of word of mouth or repeat business is amazing.

  • Great tips, too many are missing the "social" aspect of their social media marketing. If you don't engage and contribute to your online communities you will never see the ROI you are looking for.

  • […] For me, it’s never been and never will be about trying to win a client for the sake of numbers. It’s about creating an everlasting relationship that’s going to benefit everyone. Now that doesn’t mean I can’t close deals or win clients over, I’m just not direct and blatant about it. Again, I’m ALL about relationships. […]

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