The Connections Will Always Matter

In business, we’re told to focus on our primary function. But some tend to do this to the exclusion of any other efforts. The connections will always matter.

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There’s a conversation I have with S. Anthony Iannarino often about this fork in the road, he observes, between transactional selling and relationship-minded selling. He writes about it often (one example). It’s funny, we both observe, that so many people “say” they’re in the relationship business, but they work from the transactional mindset. Sell. Move on. Sell. Move on. Forget the person as soon as you’ve sold them.

And yet, there’s another issue at hand, especially highlighted by our new “social media” world. People want a lot more relationship sometimes then you’re able to give. One of the biggest dirty “secrets” (it’s not a secret at all) is that the up and comers will feel underappreciated and unloved by the perceived “A list.” Essentially, anyone who is newer than you will feel that you are a “name” and aren’t doing enough to make it a “two way street.” (Quid pro quo, Starling.)

How does one navigate the push to build relationship-based business with the desire of social/online connections to feel appreciated as part of your community at large?

Connect Where You Can

It’s a constant effort to do what you can to stay connected to those who are reaching out to you, but if Gary Vaynerchuk can still make a valid effort at nearly 1 million Twitter followers, then you can, too. Gary reaches out every day in some form or another to some number of those who are trying to capture his attention. I love watching people like author Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer reach out ceaselessly to connect with their tribes where they can, as well. It’s just not an excuse to say that too many people are trying to connect. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to respond at all.

And Yet

I receive an email or tweet every few days (used to be every day) from someone telling me they are sick of tweeting out links to my posts and I never reciprocate. I hear from people all the time who tell me that they sent an email asking me to check out their blog post and I didn’t leave a comment. There are always going to be tweets that don’t get mentioned, comments on blog posts that don’t see a reply. It’s going to happen, because there’s one of me, and there are only so many hours in the day. I’ll fail you. I’ll fail lots of yous.

But I don’t care. I’ll connect in some way as often as I can every day. Because the connections matter. Getting the chance to sit with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus at lunch a month or so ago was priceless. Talking with Jeff Goins for a few minutes about his new book and his views of the world was worth every second. And when I can retweet a friend or respond to someone’s question, hopefully, that’s a decent connection, as well.

Subscribers to my newsletter know by now that I write them back, usually ridiculously fast. And that connection is why I bother to write the newsletter in the first place.

And why?

The Business Value of Connections

I connect with people because I love people and it’s my mission to help people realize their own great value. But it’s also my business. It’s my business to connect and show that through these connections, interesting and sometimes far-reaching things can happen. I never seek out “high value targets” because what I’ve come to learn is that the best experiences I’ve had in this universe come from the “little guys,” the “up and comers,” those people who don’t yet feel loved enough. Those people are who find amazing experiences, who want to share them, and through that sharing, bring tons more value to the greater community I have the pleasure to serve. For every “big name” interaction I have, it’s the experiences with those people who feel unseen that often yield an actual and tangible business value of some sort (either for me or for them and hopefully sometimes for both of us).

Connect with people. Connect with them often. Value those connections as best as you can. Do what you can. And life will be so much more magical. And business? Well, the value of my business is much greater than the value of businesses where you only speak with “customers.” Hah. Imagine that. Limiting yourself to those who buy. Good luck with that. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Matt Medeiros

    You and @garyvee are always connecting in some way.

    I know people with far less “followers” and they can’t give you the time of day.

    On the flip side, if you expect every tweet to get read or e-mail sent to be combed over — what’s wrong with you? It’s 2013 people.

    • Chris Brogan

      I can’t even imagine seeing everything. : )

  • Ben Dunay

    Thanks, Chris. Very good.

    • Chris Brogan

      Well thank YOU! : )

  • Ian Gordon

    Most of my big business successes came from some sort of serendipity. But they only happened because I created a situation that made that serendipity possible. Having as many conversations as possible (on and offline) has always served me well. Hopefully those I’ve spoken to as well.

    • Chris Brogan

      It’s part of your magic, sir. : )

  • JosephRatliff


    You wrote:

    “I receive an email or tweet every few days (used to be every day) from someone telling me they are sick of tweeting out links to my posts and I never reciprocate.”

    That “tit for tat” connection is almost meaningless.

    I will always tweet links to the posts of your I find valuable, because I would like any person that follows what I share and write to expand their horizons at every possible moment. It makes us better people.

    But I will NEVER expect you to tweet something of mine unless you feel you should.

    You answer my emails, hell, I bet you would answer the phone if you knew I was calling (and you weren’t busy on something else of course). That is the first level of connection, and usually good enough for the online world, and good enough to exchange small favors, perhaps.

    Tweeting links back and forth does NOT even come close to that type of conversation. “Give to get” is completely the wrong mentality. You have to think “bigger.”

    The next level of connection would be if we sat down in a restaurant and “talked shop” while drinking our favorite drink (mine ISN’T beer). That’s genuine connection. After that is friendship.

    I would challenge that Twitter is a good way to cultivate a garden from which you build connections, but the next level should take place on Skype, via phone, even via email… a deeper level of some sort.

    • Chris Brogan

      Precisely so, re “tit for tat.” We both agree.

      And of course I’d answer, if I were available. : )

  • Vincent Nguyen

    Connecting is definitely valuable, Chris. You never really know who you’re going to meet or how you could possibly help each other out. I’m often surprised how easy it is to connect and get the attention of someone I’d assume is busy 24/7. A simple email, tweet, or comment and you almost know for sure (most of the time) that you’ve been heard.

    • Chris Brogan

      That’s the hope, at the very least. Doesn’t always work that way in practice.

  • Josh St. Aubin

    It’s that fine line where no matter how good your intentions are, it’s impossible to make 100% of people happy. You can scale a business, but you can’t scale yourself and that means making hard choices. Besides, if someone is merely looking for a “tit for tat” exchange, they are missing the point of these channels anyway.

    • Chris Brogan

      No doubt about it. You can rarely reach everyone. : )

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  • SL Clark

    Ha, I came up via the ONE publisher with direct relationships with their customers. These are the one book at a time customers, the passionate ones, often the source for their next publishing projects.

    It is still that way over there, only more so, they’ve expanded into Conferences for their customers – AND – one eBook purchase buys every format imaginable, because the direct connection matters!

    • Chris Brogan

      That’s what we’ve come to learn, eh my friend?

  • Michael Martel

    Chris, I love your writing. It has the common sense that is so blatantly obvious yet so infrequent in today’s world.

    So many bloggers, marketers, etc are wrapped up in digital tweets, likes that they forget the basics of common courtesy and manners. We do things for others because we should and that is what provides the lubrication for society. We shouldn’t do it because we expect immediate reciprocation.

    I genuinely believe if you just do nice things they eventually come back to you. That is how you make connections.

    • Chris Brogan

      The best thing about common sense is that people forget about it while seeking out the complexities of life.

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  • Paul Jarvis

    Brilliant dude. I feel the same way about connecting. I spent the last 2 weeks talking on the phone with 30 of my mailing list subscribers. So valuable… for me! :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Very cool!

    • SL Clark

      My plan is face to face, expressions being more valuable than words. ;-)

  • Joseph Ruiz

    Thanks I needed this right at this moment. That is all. ;-) I appreciate your generous contributions.

    • Chris Brogan

      I appreciate YOU!

  • rmsorg

    As a “little guy” I love, love this post!!

    Thanks for sharing Chris and pointing out the value of PEOPLE!!


    • Chris Brogan

      I’m a little guy, depending on the day. : ) Glad you’re doing the work.

  • Robin Reid

    Very interesting post, Chris. People are valuable, connections are valuable, and we are all charged with doing our best to connect up AND down. At the same time, I think it is a measure of professional maturity that we do not take it personally when someone fails to comment on our blog, respond to our post, or even seek us out when we ask for contact.

    Now, excuse me while I get back to responding to my chocked full inbox!

  • Rhonda Kronyk

    I have made great connections simply by ignoring transactions and focusing on people. I don’t share anything unless I read it first, but if I think something has true value, I share it. The back and forth can be great, IF we are willing to focus on people. Conversations start small, move to more personable formats such as Skype, and develop into something meaningful for everybody. Win, win

  • Rory@Rocket

    Y’know, I always just read this in Feedly, but I clicked through today – I like the way the headline of the article appears where the title of the site would normally appear. As if saying, “this is all that matters right now – this article. Not my name, not the general theme of the blog. This content, right now”.

    I like it. :)

    That’s all!

    • verda616

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  • Joanne Sprott

    Thanks, Chris. I consider whining a turn-off to relationship, so folks who do that are only doing themselves harm in the long run.

    I like what you said in one of your newsletters (and thanks also for being as amazingly available as you are to your subscribers) about dipping into social media rather than trying to stay connected to everyone all the time. Connecting regularly seems more important than trying the impossible of being comprehensive (which would end up being really shallow by definition).

    Also, one of the commenters here mentioned only reposting stuff they’d actually read, which I also go by. There’s integrity in that vs. mindless reposting.

    Both you and your tribe have proven valuable to me so far in fine-tuning my online relationships. You seem to attract some very high quality folks (and I’m not bragging on myself, here!)

  • Chiara Mazzucco

    I think there’s an important thing to note: there is a difference between genuine connection, regardless of status, and the thirst to leech and attach big names to whatever one is doing. There’s also a false sense of accessibility with social media that makes people think reciprocating or being constantly accessible is mandatory. Connections vary – you may have mentors who can only email you once a month, same traffic bloggers who you trade blog love with on a weekly basis, or you may have a network who is built purely on one-on-one interaction.

    Tap into whatever the connection is when you really need it and otherwise devote your time to strengthening that connection until you can conjure up unique ways of benefiting one another.

    I really enjoyed this, Chris. Thank you. And if I ever feel a response to one of your spectacular newsletters is called for, you’ll receive one. :)

  • jackinessity

    I see a Josh and a Ryan!!! <3 <3 <3

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  • greg

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  • Ava Cristi

    As a business, we want to create raving fans of our business. This will only happen when we build great connections and relationships around our business.Thanks Chris!

  • hil

    I like your article. I t was so interesting and educative.

  • hil

    connecting with people is one thing which most business people and those that are getting into business should do, because like that you create a social network which eventually become big and interesting. Thank you Chris.

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  • samantha657

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  • Azmir Ismail

    Interesting post Chris. Am currently evaluating the lack of success of my business ventures and came to the conclusions that my network of connections is one of the main reasons. I think it is due to the fear of rejection/hostility that one will encounter when you search for the people you can connect with. Thanks for clearing the connections part for me in this post.

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