It can be difficult to figure out how to best manage all of your relationships with the people in your professional & personal life when you have a business to run at the same time.
Running your own business takes a great deal of time, energy, and resources, which doesn’t leave much room for your family, friends, or even professional contacts.
So, to stay on top of all those relationships, it becomes necessary to have a plan and to put in deliberate effort because you are in one of the busiest and most stressful occupations as a business owner. The things we’re going to discuss in this post will give you various ways to manage it effectively.
Checking In: The Key to Human Maintenance
Whether they’re a colleague or a friend you’ve known for many years, the people in your life need to hear from you once in a while, and in the same way, you need to hear from them, too.
We basically all want to see that someone is going to take the initiative and reach out because that’s how we know that we are important to them. While this is more prevalent with our personal contacts, it applies just the same to people we work with.
For example, if you have an idea for a new project or some kind of partnership, then you’re going to run through your mental files of colleagues to decide which of those people with whom you want to work with on the new project. Who would you be more likely to choose?
Regardless of how long you’ve known them, you would most likely choose a person you hear from the most often. So, if you think about this from the point-of-view of other people, you can see how important it is that you keep yourself on their radar because it allows an opportunity for mutual benefit.
Tips for Staying on Top of Your Professional Relationships
Regarding your professional contacts (and many of these tips will apply to personal contacts, as well, and vice versa), the first thing that is very useful is to keep a written list of all your contacts, outside of what’s in your cell phone.
That way, there is always a document somewhere that has everyone’s phone number, email, and even upcoming events or meetings associated with each person. Obviously, if you have administrative staff available to you, this may be something that would be good to delegate to them.
Secondly, don’t ignore messages from people, no matter how seemingly insignificant. The thing is with professional contacts is that you never know when you may need that person’s help with a project, or when they may become valuable to a new business venture. At the very least, it’s a good practice to send them even just a quick text to let them know that you received their message and you’re not ignoring them.
Another practice that may be useful to you is, when someone calls you and you’re busy at the moment, to answer the phone and ask them directly if you can call them back later. Most people will appreciate the immediate response, even if you can’t speak to them right away.
Then, after the bulk of your work is done for the day, try setting aside a time after business hours when you get back to everyone. Additionally, before the first part of the day in the morning, answer all of your emails first thing because if you let them pile up, it can easily set your day back quite a bit.
Tips for Family Relationships
A really good way to address your relationships with family members right off the bat is to have a conversation with them, explaining that your business takes up a great deal of time, and that you may not be able to respond to them right away when they reach out to you (except for very important issues, of course).
Family will usually understand this because they know that the business is extremely important to you. Meanwhile, you can arrange to spend lunch with spouses or other close family members, whenever you get the time on workdays.
Beyond that, it’s also important that you set a time when you will quit work every day, after which time you make yourself available to your family so that this time is set aside exclusively to spend quality time with loved ones. Naturally, you may have to put out fires for the business as they inevitably come up from time to time.
Tips for Friend Relationships
Your friend relationships also require maintenance so that you don’t become inadvertently estranged from them, this being another part of a healthy work-life balance. One of your greatest assets with your friends is social media.
Friends are friends, and they typically don’t expect frequent calls from you, as family members might do; therefore, it’s usually sufficient to engage with them on social media every once in a while.
In fact, nowadays, this is the preferred method of contact for most people, especially if you’re in a younger generation. You’re probably going to be actively using social media, anyway, so you might as well like and comment on your friends’ posts and photos here and there.
Another way you might keep your friend relationships fed and watered is by remembering their birthdays. To be sure, everybody says they don’t care about their birthday, and everybody absolutely does care if you remember theirs.
Facebook makes it really easy because it will actually let you know someone’s birthday comes up, as we all know; however, do you know what friends will really appreciate on their birthday? Don’t just send a quick, “Happy Birthday” on Facebook (which they will see 100 times that day). An actual phone call goes a long way, or at least a personal text message.
Speaking of text messages, something else that many people do now is to keep an open group text for your circle of friends, for everybody to stay in touch. When you have that active group text, everybody can just chime in every once in awhile as they think of it, and it’s a great way to stay connected without expending much effort.
Staying in Touch Doesn’t Have to Take a Lot of Effort
You can forget the notion that you have to constantly give people a lot of time to maintain your relationships with them. Most people generally just want to know that you haven’t forgotten about them, and frankly, they don’t have a surplus of time to devote to people outside their immediate families, either. People have their own jobs, kids, mortgages, and other pressing responsibilities.
We all just want to be reassured every now and then, that the people we know have us in mind. If you just try to remember to get back to people who have contacted you within a day or so and send a text to those close to you at least once a week (which usually doesn’t take more than 30 seconds), then you’re doing pretty good.
The main idea behind all of the aforementioned points is just to touch base with people every once in awhile, so that we stay on each other’s radar.
Having said all that, there is a caveat to this that we need to always remember, too. No matter how long you’ve known someone or how bulletproof your connection with them seems to be, it is not uncommon to lose relationships with people when you experience a major life change. When you start a business, move to a new city, have children, or go through any other kind of big change, it has the tendency to put strain on your relationships with people–even if you are very close to them.
The first ones to go during those times are often the relationships which are based solely on what you have in common in the moment, rather than having a deep connection with someone, either from a shared childhood or simply by sharing a pure compatibility with each other.
The best you can do is to make a conscious effort to reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues at a regular frequency, and if it is unreciprocated, then you’re probably not meant to be connected, anyway.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.