A few weeks ago, on my way back home from New York, I happened to stop at the home of one of my friends from 1998. This friend and I had worked together for about six months in 1997.
We reconnected a day or two before this trip of mine, and I got very warm and encouraging vibes from him, which is why I decided to stop by and see him.
As we spoke, we reminisced about the past and discussed whereabouts of most of our other friends.
One of the questions I asked my friend was how did he remember me after all this time, and what made him seek me out. He mentioned that sometime in 1999 when he was new to the country and trying to get his permanent residence application submitted, I had sent over a recommendation letter. Since I had worked with him at our computer consulting company in New Delhi and knew him well, it was easy for me to write out and send him the letter.
Writing the letter was a small effort for me. Mailing it out to him (I recall he was in Florida at the time) was an even smaller effort.
The main point of this story is that I recognized the value of the letter for him, and I took the effort to send it out. A small effort on my part had a big impact on my friend.
The impact was so big that he remembered it, while I had totally forgotten it.
That incident led to reviving our friendship and I know I can count on my friend for any favors that I may need and which he may be capable of (or know someone well enough that may be capable of) doing.
In dealing with people, in my experience, it has always been beneficial to go out and do favors without any expectation of return. I am always looking out for an opportunity to do something for someone. The things that come easy to you and require small effort may mean a lot to the other person and have a much high impact on them.
I have built some lasting and truly satisfying relationships using this technique. I have practiced this to such an extent that I have no hesitation in recommending this approach.
I advise budding leaders to “invest” in friendships in this manner. It pays great future dividends and you’d be surprised at how much people remember your actions.