In all that we do, both in our personal and professional lives, our relationships stand as the cornerstone to help us grow. Relationships are what grow a successful business, allow friendships to occur, and quite frankly, what makes the world operate.

Let’s take a glance at the following quote:

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” – Anthony Robbins

In other words, our relationships are in some way a measurement for how well lived our life will be. The question becomes, “have we grown a network of people who we have built into, and who have built into us?”

Whether you answered yes or no to the question, the following five steps are important and necessary to build new relationships and to strengthen existing ones.

1. Show Up – Not quite sure where I heard it, but someone once told me that 85-90% of building a relationship is simply showing up. This is called making yourself vulnerable. This is asking you to put yourself into an unfamiliar situation and make the most out of it. This is being curious and asking questions. Make the 100 cold calls that no one else is doing. Knock on doors to get answers. Be where you are supposed to be when someone asks you. Meet someone in person and greet them with a handshake. If you can’t get beyond this first step, then it’s going to be difficult to get very far. Break through this barrier.

2. Listen more than you speak – There is a reason you have two ears and one mouth. Listen to what you hear, process what you hear and remember what you hear. It’s easy to find yourself day dreaming about anything but the conversation that is taking place now. In sales, I have often heard the quote, “He who speaks first loses.” In building relationships, put your needs and wants on the back burner. Listen and learn to understand the needs of the other person and together problem solve to create a solution and build the relationship.

3. Take genuine interest – Learn to be ‘real’. People can pinpoint false character. People can tell when you are being a narcissist. Check your ego at the door and express a genuine authenticity in growing something beyond any ulterior motives you may have. Your goal shouldn’t be to make a sale, but to help alleviate a pain or problem your customer may be experiencing. Your goal shouldn’t be to get in every last word, rather speak less and listen more. Your goal should be to express concern and vest an interest in the other individual.

4. Bring something to the table – What’s it worth to you or the other person if you can’t bring value to the table? This isn’t to say you are going to do X, Y and Z, but rather help by providing X, Y and Z when the time comes. You can be a shoulder to lean on in times of hardship. You can find the product your customer needs when no other vendor can. You can hold the other person accountable for reaching their goals when they are struggling. Most of all, you are going to bring a sense of caring and understanding to that person’s life. Find common denominators and relate to that person. Make them feel comfortable, and as a result, they will begin sharing information you didn’t even ask for.

5. You MUST work at it – And by working, I mean hard, like everyday hard. Think about your longest friendship. If you’re anything like me, it has taken years to build it and strengthen it to the point it is at today. Don’t expect to show up at someone’s door and become best buds after a 15 minute appointment. It doesn’t work like that. It requires maintenance, it requires care, and it requires ongoing support. The moment you begin turning to this person when you simply need something is the moment in which you have lost the relationship. I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘proceed with caution’, as much as I would say ‘proceed with care’. Be gentle and be kind. Lastly, be true to your word and convictions.

Five steps. Five simple steps, yet demanding steps. Five time consuming steps. Five steps that will require concerted, daily efforts. And, to be quite honest, the ironic part about these five steps is that you will never reach a point in time when you stop utilizing them. You will continue to implement the steps because a relationship is always under construction.

I will repeat that last statement. I relationship is always under construction. As soon as you think you have reached the end of a relationship, dig deeper. Return back to step one and work through the five steps again.

You might ask, “So, which step is the most important?” My answer – all of them. To establish anything with another individual you must pay attention to each step. Not necessarily in the exact order, but at some point in time, and each day of your life.

It is in building others up, that we begin to build into ourselves.