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There’s no question that success in business, and in life, often comes down to who you know, not what you know.

Having observed the lives of remarkably successful people, I’m convinced that creating a network of meaningful relationships is integral to their success. Deep connections allow you to create impact faster and on a larger scale.

Great networks don’t grow on trees. You can’t buy them on Amazon or find them on LinkedIn. To build the best network, you must develop meaningful relationships.

These five habits will help you foster the sort of relationships that’ll lead you to success:


1. Be Generous

The best relationships are built on a mutual desire to give value to the other person. When both parties are more focused on giving than receiving, it fosters a genuine bond that goes deeper than the value of the exchange. That bond is based on mutual trust that each of you wants what is best for the other.

Generosity takes many forms. It can be as easy as making an introduction, lending an ear, or giving the gift of your expertise.


2. Listen Well

Everyone wants to be heard and understood, which is why listening is the foundation for any meaningful relationship. Authentic listening signals that you’re genuinely interested in the other person and what he or she has to say.

Part of being a good listener is developing self-awareness and noticing if you’re truly engaged in the conversation. One of the easiest and fastest ways to be a better listener is to stop interrupting.


3. Treat Others How You Want to Be Treated

You can be as smart, talented, and ambitious as you want, but none of that matters if you have a bad reputation. Building a positive reputation takes time and is vital to building meaningful relationships. As a mentor once told me, “You only get one last name. Don’t tarnish it.”

The best way to build a stellar reputation is to consistently treat others in the same way you want to be treated. It sounds easy, but it’s surprising how few people remember this golden rule. If you need some help, focus on developing the traits of likable people. Doing so will help you to model your behavior to be aligned with the golden rule.


4. Celebrate Others’ Accomplishments

I still remember when my friend wrote me an email to congratulate me on a partnership announcement for SkyBell. It made me feel incredible, and it affirmed that part of developing strong friendships is acknowledging the accomplishments of your friends.

Become a fan for your friends when they announce big news. Even something as simple as a quick “congratulations” on social media can show others that their accomplishments don’t go unnoticed. Of course, a phone call or in-person celebration is even better.


5. Focus on Quality

No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t add more hours to your day.

This is why successful people focus on fostering a few key relationships, rather than spreading their time across as many people as possible. Quickly adding more connections might make you feel more productive, but the best networks are created through depth, not breadth.



Meaningful relationships are built with intention, sincerity, honesty, and generosity. There are no shortcuts. If you make the five habits listed in this article a way of life, you’ll build a network that fuels your professional success and adds happiness to your life.



This article was originally published on Inc. It has been republished here with permission.