The Power of Connection: Maintaining Valuable Relationships (Part 3)

Maintaining relationships requires conscious effort. It can be a challenge to balance multiple relationships, and in the age of social media it is incredibly easy to end up with a much larger social circle than ever before.

So how do you maintain these relationships? And how many relationships can you reasonably manage?

If you try to create a meaningful relationship with everyone you meet, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and end up with a large number of less-than-satisfying relationships. So, it’s time to get strategic about the relationships you choose to build.

Want to Maintain Your Valuable Relationships? Think Quality Not Quantity

Take a look at the number of connections you have both online and off. If you’re active on social media, the number is probably significant. Building and maintaining relationships takes time, and I’m willing to bet it would be physically impossible for you to have a meaningful relationship with everyone on your list.

According to Dr. Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology and Director of the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, we humans are capable of maintaining persistent, social relationships with approximately 150 people.

The key phrase here is persistent, social relationship. Dunbar’s number does not mean that you have to deep six your all of your Twitter followers or go on an unfriending frenzy; social networking relationships are meant to be loose, open and immediate. But it does mean that the more connections you have the more strategic you should be in terms of which relationships get your attention. Otherwise you risk having a ton of contacts with very few meaningful connections and that just isn’t terribly fulfilling.

5 Tips for Maintaining Your Most Valuable Relationships

This series started with a discussion about where to find good connections and how to build your relationships. Here, I’ll give you a few tips for how to maintain those relationships.

Step 1: Know Your Tribe. Create a manageable list of the people with whom you most want to foster a relationship. Include as much information about each person as you can, including their website, email, address, birthday and various social media profiles. Keep this list somewhere where you can review it regularly.

Step 2: Make an Effort to Connect. Really make an effort to connect with your tribe. Connect with them on whatever social media platforms you frequent and use the list features to make it easier to find and comment on their posts. Sign up for their email newsletters and follow their blogs. Comment on their blog posts and share them when appropriate. Support them the way you would like them to support you.

Step 3: Use Your List. Use your master list to keep in touch with your tribe and foster meaningful relationships. Review it occasionally to see who you may not have connected with in a while and reach out to them.

Step 4: Be a Match-Maker. Make introductions and connect the people you know to each other. If you’re familiar with their work, refer them to potential clients.

Step 5: Go Social Old School. Bring your connections offline. Set up phone calls so you can support each other and keep in touch. Send birthday cards and thank you notes. Be available and be real.

Be strategic about which relationships you foster. It sounds a bit harsh, but if you spend a lot of time corresponding with a squeaky wheel or someone who just drains your energy, you have less time to foster those relationships that you truly enjoy.

By building and maintaining select, fulfilling relationships, you will benefit in more ways than you could ever imagine. This week, get conscious about your relationships and reach out to someone you really want to connect with. And let us know how it goes.

Photo Credit: James Cridland

About Erica Holthausen

Erica Holthausen is the Chief Instigator behind the Honest Marketing Revolution and creator of the 10 Steps to Honest Marketing. As a marketing mentor, she helps solopreneurs and microbusinesses fall in love with sales and marketing so they can help more people while building thriving, life-sustaining businesses. She believes marketing is an integral part of how you serve the world. Sound good? Sign up for her email newsletter and join the revolution!


  1. Lisa Sutton says:

    Erica, thank you for more helpful insights. In this world of social media, the art of connecting is challenging. Who, where, what, and how… so much to know and figure out. Thank you!

    • Lisa, I’m so glad you find this series helpful. There certainly is a lot of information to juggle, but once you’ve made it more intentional it does become a bit easier. I have a day set aside each month simply to look over my list of people with whom I want to foster a relationship and plan some time to connect with them in a way that is intentional and meaningful. Sometimes it’s just sending a thank you note or a card in the mail. Other times it’s a phone call or an email or a coffee date.

  2. With the non-stop demands of online and offline social commitments, I often feel I’m overwhelmed. Thank you for bringing clarity to setting priorities to those who support rather than drain. My favorite of your three posts on this topic!

    • Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! As I was writing it, I realized that this was advice that I needed to hear and remember. It’s okay to let go of the people, things, blogs, email newsletters and clutter that no longer resonates. Life is much more enjoyable when you are surrounded by people, things and ideas that bring you joy!

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