Want to be more successful in 2018? Don’t treat people like trains

A few days ago, I received one of those emails from a long lost colleague, wanting to “check in” to “say hello.” Under the guise of extreme friendliness, this person gushed until they got to the point of their message, a few paragraphs down… Yes, I did read that long. This person was lucky that I did. They were reaching out, of course, because they wanted something from me.

This person had some new initiative to share, and despite not having spoken with me or having had any sort of contact with me at all in a few years; they wanted my time, some money, and help in “spreading the word” on their initiative.

Don’t get me wrong – this particular person is a good person, at least from what I remember, and this initiative seemed fairly worthwhile and sincere. That said, the whole situation was off putting. How could it not be? Someone I hadn’t spoken to in forever, only reaching out because they wanted me to help get them somewhere?

Want to be more successful in 2018 and beyond? Then don’t do what this person did. Don’t treat people like trains.

That’s right – do not treat people like trains. Do not treat others like they are your vehicles to get you from Point A to Point B. It’s off putting at best, and self defeating (to you) at worst.

Its amazing that some adults don’t know this, but here goes: Real relationships – and that includes professional as well as personal – are organic and have a healthy amount of give and take to them. So perhaps before you go pitching someone your latest idea, project, etc., asking them for some sort of assistance, introductions, or money, you should consider what you have done for that person lately. When is the last time you asked them to lunch, just because you wanted to check in with them? Ask them how their career was going, how their kids were or how their spouse was doing?

This is such an entrenched belief in some circles, particularly in the entertainment industry. You will make yourself an instant pariah if you reach out to people you hardly know, asking for favors, without having put the time into building a relationship first. You will earn yourself a bad reputation very quickly, and people will avoid you.

Take the time to foster real connections, without coming across as self serving, without having an agenda. Offer to help others without expecting anything back. You’ll be surprised by how many people will offer to help you, once they get a sense of your real character.

Then you won’t even want to treat anyone like a train to get to where you want to go.

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