Your support system may be your most important resource, whether you are an entrepreneur or a CEO, an executive or a sales associate. A group of people that wants what’s best for you and is willing to help you whenever you are in need is an enormous source of strength, advice, and solutions. That’s why keeping track of your support system and taking care of it are some of the most important things you can do in the business world.
One thing that many people overlook is the need to prioritize time with their support system. When work gets busy the people in your life sometimes end up taking a back seat, and that’s because personal relationships are often placed in the “play” category when measured on the work vs. play scale. This attitude is far from reality though, since your relationships are very closely linked to your performance in your career. Relationships can also be an excellent source of inspiration and varying viewpoints for problem solving. For instance, imagine that you need to find a way to attract a new target market to your company. You could work non-stop on the problem alone, without consulting any of your supporters, and come up with a decent, useable solution after a month of work. Or instead you could go to dinner with a close friend or trusted advisor and, through the advantages of a different thought process and perspective, come up with a great plan right away that you might never have thought of alone.
So how should you treat your support system in order to maximize satisfaction and happiness for both yourself and the members within it? The most important way is to prioritize time with your supporters. Don’t cut them out when times get tough or busy. You need their company and they need yours, and the importance of that shouldn’t be trivialized. Schedule time specifically to see your friends and family and treat that time with the same respect that you would treat a business meeting.
Supporters also deserve to be included when you celebrate successes. Celebrating with others makes them feel involved in your life and business, something people who truly care about you crave. The same is true for setbacks, with the exception of some support system members. While most members want to help you when you need a shoulder to steady yourself on or a reassuring hug, some people simply can’t handle the extra stress. These are the type of people who always need to feel that they are part of a successful venture. While you should not have a whole support system based on these kinds of people, there is no problem with having a few to cheer you on when you are doing well – it’s just important to be aware of what things you can go to them for support for.
One of the worst things you can do to anyone in your support system is make him or her feel used. By the same token, you need to make sure to ask for the kind of support that a person is able to give you, so that they have the opportunity to actually help you. When they do, show genuine gratitude, even if you don’t agree with their opinions on what you are doing or should do, and even if they performed a favour for you in a way you hadn’t hoped for. If you don’t have anything in particular to thank them for, show that you are grateful just for their reassurance, presence and support. Showing that you appreciate the people who care about you is sometimes the only way you can reciprocate their support.
However, if you can repay a favour and support with more than just gratitude, don’t hesitate to do it. Finding ways to help a supporter can be done proactively, by looking specifically for ways that you can help them in their business or personal life. If connecting members of your network to each-other is a way to help them solve problems, then consider doing that. Mutually beneficial relationships are what a strong support system is built upon.
To sum up:
1. No matter how busy you are, prioritize and make time for your support system.
2. Celebrate progress with your supporters and share setbacks.
3. Understand different kinds of supporters and act appropriately – some supporters can handle hearing when times are hard for you, while some need to feel that they are part of something overwhelmingly successful.
4. Show genuine gratitude and appreciation for all the ways that your system helps you.
5. Focus on a mutually beneficial relationship – try to help a supporter as often as you can.