There is a real challenge for those of us who are in a services business (and the reality of course, is that we are all in a services business to a greater or lesser degree). It is this; we can now make more contacts, reach more people, and be more visible than at any time in history, but it is extraordinarily difficult to build relationships with more than around 150. The number is pretty solid, and the 5 min video here shows an extract from Robin Dunbar talking about it.
I think that creates both opportunity and challenge. Try this exercise for a day. For every email, text, or other communication you get or send, give it an AQ, an Authenticity quotient from 1-10.
1 signifies little or no sense of connection, whilst 10 is total understanding and empathy – a real and deep sense of connection.
At the end of the day, consider how much of your time has been wasted on contacts with little depth, who you will not remember, and who will not remember you.
Your biggest asset is your connections with other people, not in number, but in quality. These are the people who you bring out the best in, and who in turn bring out the best in you. Authentic connectivity, and no matter how many Facebook friends you have, if Robin Dunbar is right (and he’s a very smart guy) you have a ration of 150.
In an age of hyperconnectivity, we can dilute our authenticity to the point where we are indistinguishable from every body else in an attempt to reach ever more people. We are reduced to making decisions on the basis of shallow marketing messages. As individuals, we become invisible.
What if we considered our closest, most authentic relationships and focused on them. Those people who really know you and what you stand for, what you believe in and who really trust you. Now you have a tribe, a following. They might convey who you are to their 150. The compound effect of that is a high degree of credibility to 22,500 people who might connect with you, your values and your purpose – not a marketing message of dubious provenance. How many contacts do you need again?
How might you spend your time tomorrow?