Let’s talk about loyalty.
For someone who doesn’t know the business world inside out, as any other area, it will seem daunting. It will seem that things are running at 200 mph and that the whole panorama changes each month. Fair enough.
There are aspects that change at a very high speed. However, the key people who will help you are an exception to this rule. These people should remain constant.
It’s a common misunderstanding that the bigger your business network, the better. Know everyone you can, as if the volume itself will make you more competent.
This isn’t accurate. The people in your network who will help you the most are those who can deliver value to you and vice-versa.
You might be able to effectively exchange value with 10 people out of the 150 in your network -- or 800, or 1500. The sheer volume of your contact list will not help you.
The volume of the list of close, trusted contacts will. In short, what you want is more valuable people in your life, not just a never ending list of contacts. It's just like the ratio between true close friends and unknown Facebook friends.
In this aspect, loyalty is a crucial concept. In today's world, we change occupations, companies and paradigms so quickly, we might be led to think we need to change the contacts we deal with frequently.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Trustworthy, genuine people will always keep in touch.
If you get to know someone of value who might help you when you’re building your first startup, he or she will still be there throughout your second, third and subsequent startups.
If you know someone who did valuable work for you or vice-versa, he or she will be available for the next five to 10 years.
Loyal people will be there.
It’s especially important to reiterate this in the world of today, where we live under the illusion that delayed gratification is no longer necessary.
We are misled by the media to believe we can get rich quick, use people, discard them and have anything easily. That is not true.
You have to work as hard as you did 10 years ago to create something of value. Hard work will always be hard work. Loyal people will always be loyal people.
Especially in excruciating environments like startups, where product needs, customer needs and the status of the competition changes pretty much each month, you need people to give you strength.
You need people who know you, know where you came from, know where you are and where you are going. You need companions in the war of business -- and many times, it is an all-out war.
So, when meeting new people, more business contacts for your rolodex does increase the sheer volume of your contact list, but make sure to always keep an eye out for people who will be there in the long-term.
Keep an eye out for those you hope to know for the next 10 years and be sure to maintain those relationships.
Look out for the people who genuinely seem interested in helping you and who have an impressive track record already on their own. People who are loyal will stand by you forever.
Photo via Goodfellas