Beyond First Impressions: 6 Ways to Deepen Your Connections

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Article by Tristan Ahumada

A miller and his son were taking their donkey to sell at market when they passed a group of girls who laughed at how foolish the miller was to have a donkey and yet be walking. So the miller put his son on the donkey.

Further down the road, they passed some older people who scolded the miller for allowing his young son to ride when he should be riding himself. So the miller removed his son and mounted the donkey. Later they passed some travelers who said if he wanted to sell the donkey, the two of them should carry him or he’d be exhausted and worthless. So the miller and his son bound the donkey’s legs to a pole and carried him.

As the miller and his son approached the town, the people laughed at the sight of them. They laughed so loudly that the noise frightened the donkey, who kicked out and ran away. Embarrassed, the miller and his son went home with nothing, save the lesson that you can’t achieve anything by trying to please everyone.

There’s a hard truth here that lies at the heart of all relationships, even brand new ones. Often, we try to connect with people and do our best to leave a good impression on them, but that’s not the right approach. A good impression is a fine start to a relationship, but there’s a lot more involved in building meaningful relationships. Based on personal experience, interviews, and my studies of some of the most successful people in the world, I’ve outlined the six keys to creating successful relationships — from first impression to lasting partnership:

1. Bring the Right Energy

This is where it all starts when making an impression. You can either leave someone feeling like they need to have you around or leave them feeling like they don’t want to see you again.

2. Don’t Fear Vulnerability

Vulnerability is a strength in any relationship. Vulnerability allows people to connect more deeply because a strong sense of trust develops when both parties begin to see there is nothing to hide. However, all vulnerability starts with one party opening up.

3. Offer Empathy

When you truly open up to, listen to, and care about people, you begin to understand them. People can sense when you truly care, and that’s when a deeper connection happens.

4. Make Yourself Valuable

Many of the things I’ve done over the past 15 years have been for. the greater good. I know that the more I give without expecting anything in return, the more will be given to me. You have to offer real value and contribute to the people around you. They will see you as a necessary part of their life and business.

5. Express Gratitude

When you make the other party feel like they are contributing to your growth and your life, you are making the relationship even stronger. Don’t ever forget that a strong relationship involves receiving as much as giving, and making the other person aware that they are appreciated.

6. Be Consistent

This one is self-explanatory. The more you show up doing the things above, the more you will connect with the people in your life. Building relationships is not a short process, and that’s why some people can’t build strong ones. Relationship-building is a long and involved evolution.

I’ve used these exact steps to build amazing relationships in my life — within my family, among my employees and my professional network, and on the larger scale as a social influencer. All of the key points involve growth and neverending improvement for the sake of other people, because they’re worth it.

Every day, we must ask ourselves: “How can I help those around me?” Keep people first, and you will start to build strong, purpose-filled relationships subconsciously.

Versions of this article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine and on

Tristan Ahumada is the people editor for SUCCESS, operates Lab Coat Agents as its CEO, consults Fortune 500 companies, runs a successful real estate team in California and expansion teams in the US (in different brokerages), is an owner in one brokerage, currently sits on different boards for tech companies, and is an international speaker. His love for technology and systems pushes him to test and use the latest products for growth for all businesses around the world, including real estate agents and brokers. Tristan is from Southern California, where he currently lives with his wife and two kids.

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