The more I help people make connections, the more relationship capital points I bank. The more I spend them, the more I get back.

James, a young and brilliant CEO I’ve been working with, reached out to me in a panic. “I just got invited to Davos. Help!”

And help I did, this time not by giving James the tools to articulate what makes him awesome, but by connecting him to a couple of Ladybadasses who I just happened to find out were also headed to Davos.

Getting an invitation to Davos is a pretty good win for James. He’s going to be surrounded by people who might be able to help get his idea from concept to reality. I believe in his potential. So I took the time and energy to make awesomeness-filled introductions for him. (Which quickly led to them making cocktail plans). I did this, of course, without any expectation of compensation. 

Except that isn’t the whole truth, is it?

Because whenever we expend our time and energy for someone, we’re quietly making calculations in our heads, weighing the risks and rewards of our expenditures. We’re wondering, will going out of my way for this person help me, or will it hurt me? And often, we get cautious and hold back.

So today, let’s take the math out of our heads.

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While I haven’t got “paid” per se for these introductions, I can safely assume I received “relationship capital points” or RCPs for just making an effort. I’m going to give myself a generous 10 RCPs for each introduction.

Joanna’s current RCP account = 30 points.

Let’s jump into the future and talk to these three people. One of three things has now happened.

  1. They didn’t like each other after all. (Deduct 5 RCP points. Not 10, because trying counts for at least 5).
  2. They liked each other, but there wasn’t an opportunity to collaborate. (Add 5 points).
  3. They liked each other and now are going to make shenanigans happen. (Add 10 points).

So let’s do the math for each of these scenarios.

  1. No connection no wins for anyone. 30 RCPs – 15RCPs = + 15 RCPS ( or +5 RCPS per person)
  2. Like but no extras. 30 RCPs + 15 RCPs = 45 RCPs ( or +15 RCPs per person)
  3. Everything is awesome. 30 RCPs + 30 RCPs = 60 RCPs (or 20 RCPs per person)

What does this prove? The more I help people make connections, the more relationship capital points I bank. The more I spend them, the more I get back.  It just keeps building. THERE’S NO LOSING.

Our heads inflate the damage of scenario number one, where no one wins, and we lose a little bit of credibility. But the math on paper shows a surprising fact—the expenditure of effort still results in a net gain!

And here’s the real secret. Knowing I helped friends make new acquaintances feels terrific, and while I used math to tell a story the secret isn’t about amassing a giant store of relationship credit. The secret is to spend your relationship capital as much as you can. The more you spend, the more impact you have, and, bonus, the happier you are.

So I dare you. Go out and introduce two people who would know each other. Dip into your relationship capital bank and spend it on others as much as you can. Take the risk of the connection being a flop, of them not getting anything out of it.

Because it turns out that with this risk, there is nothing but reward.