Ghana: Sara Asafu-Adjaye on turning your rolodex into relationships

Sara Asafu-Adjaye has spent a lifetime connecting people and building relationships. She is so good at it that to many, she is an unofficial Mayor, a direct link to the ‘Who’s Who in Ghana’. I sat down with Sara so she could teach us a thing or two about making connections. The premise of the whole conversation being, how do you build relationships with important people so that when you call them, they always answer.

Sara Asafu-Adjaye

Here are Sara’s 6 tips on how you turn your rolodex from a collection of cards to strong personal and professional relationships.

Tip 1 – Even if someone says “no”, leave them feeling as though they had said “yes”. If I ask someone for a favor, I give them options. So what happens is that when people remember me, they don’t remember me for having made them feel bad for having said “no”. As much as possible, I make sure it is a positive interaction in the end both for myself and for them.

For example, I went to ask for sponsorship from an important individual who could afford to give for something close to my heart. It hurt to hear him say no, but I didn’t show it. At the end of the meeting he offered to take me out to lunch, the amount for which would have cost almost what I had been asking for as a donation.  So, I declined the offer for lunch and asked if he could give me the money instead. He agreed.

Tip 2 – Every conservation could have something  of value, so practice active listening . I stay as present as possible in every conversation. If you are present in conversations with others, you will connect with things people say and remember who did what, and where, and when. You will retain information about people so vividly that the next time someone says hey I am looking for a person who does “x” or “y” your rolodex of conversations will pop up and you will always have someone to recommend.
Tip 3 – Open up to people – a problem shared is a problem halved. I know a lot of people might feel as though they shouldn’t share their troubles, worries, or concerns, but I’ve found that they have helped in making others feel connected to me. There is something about being open and emotionally vulnerable that allows others to do the same, making for relationships based on real and unforgettable human connection.
Tip 4 – Deliver on your promise and if you can’t, let someone know as soon as possible. It can be very difficult, I know, because we can all bite off more than we can chew, but this is so important. People will respect you for being reliable and they are more likely to be receptive when you recommend  someone else, and more likely to answer when you come calling. At the end of the day it’s about integrity, people need to have confidence in you.
Tip 5 – Accept Random or Seemingly Inconvenient Invitations – We all get invited to things and places, and sometimes the only pull to attend is one person or one friend. My advice is; when ever you can show up for people do. Those are the moments you’ll find that you meet the most amazing people and create new relationships. You will find pleasant surprises where you had the least expectations.
For example – I went to a talk for plastic surgery not being interested in the subject at all but I met a woman there who later connected me to another person that ended up being a client for me.
Tip 6 – Treat people as you would like to be treated.
Treat people as you would like to be treated.
Treat people as you would like to be treated. 
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