There is a misconception that to build a bond, two people need to spend a great deal of time together. This is not the case. Outside your family and work, you probably can count the people you see a great deal of in the course of a month on two hands. Yet, surely, you have more than ten friends. It is what you do together that matters, not how often you meet. That’s why you have to pay special attention to where you’re most comfortable and what activities you most enjoy.
Usually it’s the events and activities you excel at that you’re most passionate about. So it makes sense to make these the focus of your efforts. For me, my love of food and exercise has led to the most amazing get-togethers. For others, it may be stamps, baseball cards, politics, or skydiving that brings you together.
Make a list of the things you’re most passionate about. Use your passions as a guide to which activities and events you should be seeking out. Use them to engage new and old contacts. If you love baseball, for example, take potential and current clients to a ballgame. It doesn’t matter what you do, only that it’s something you love doing. Your passions and the events you build around them will create deeper levels of intimacy. Pay attention to matching the event to the particular relationship you’re trying to build. I’ve got an informal list of activities I use to keep in touch with my business and personal friends. Here are some things I like to do:
1. Fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee. It’s quick, it’s out of the office, and it’s a great way to meet someone new.
2. Conferences. If I’m attending a conference in, say, Seattle, I’ll pull out a list of people in the area I know or would like to know better and see if they might like to drop in for a particularly interesting keynote speech or dinner.
3. Invite someone to share a workout or a hobby (golf, chess, stamp collecting, a book club, etc.).
4. A quick early breakfast, lunch, drinks after work, or dinner together. There’s nothing like food to break the ice.
5. Invite someone to a special event. For me, a special event such as the theater, a book-signing party, or a concert is made even more special if I bring along a few people who I think might particularly enjoy the occasion.
6. Entertaining at home. I view dinner parties at home as sacred. I like to make these events as intimate as possible. To ensure they stay that way, I generally will invite only one or two people I don’t know that well. By dinner’s end, I want those people leaving my home feeling as if they’ve made a whole new set of friends, and that’s hard to do if it’s a dinner filled with strangers.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi, Tahl Raz