I’ve said many times that life is a contact sport – it’s one of my favorite analogies. Everyone you meet, every single day represents a potential opportunity, personally or professionally, down the road. In fact, every single opportunity that I’ve had in my life has come from someone I knew, or from some relationship I made where someone was thinking about me or told someone else about me. The fact is, not much is as important as the network of friends, colleagues and others you build in life. Here’s how to maximize the value of interpersonal relationships. Embrace Six Degrees Of Separation You may have heard the expression, “Six degrees of separation.” If you haven’t, it basically refers to the fact that everyone in the world is literally only six people away from you in terms of who they know. In business, networking and building relationships is key because there is always a time when you can use a hand, advice or a simple contact. Smile, shake hands and build relationships with people. These are the people who will be your partners as you navigate your interpersonal network of contacts. Keep Detailed Information Keeping detailed contact information for every person you meet is a good habit to adopt and a smart strategy for success. Not only will you have information available when you need it, but you can stay on top of the ball when it comes to establishing genuine connections with people. Does your son play baseball with the fellow from the office next to yours? Engage him in conversation about the game. If your sister-in-law knows your neighbor’s birthday, write it down and be first to say “Happy Birthday.” Detailed contact information gives you the edge with the people you already know and builds your information arsenal for new people you meet. Make certain to spell people’s names right and know where they work – the more you know, the higher the likelihood you will foster a true, memorable, and genuine connection. Exercise Respect Plato once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s true, and that goes for the entry-level mail clerk as well as the coveted CEO. Treat everyone with respect, regardless of their level in the organization or status in life, give credit, and have time for others. You never know when someone will play an important role in your life or when you’ll play a key role in theirs. Be caring, compassionate, and inspire trust with everyone. It’s good business practice and it’s a wonderful human quality. Building interpersonal relationships and a solid network of friends and business contacts will help you throughout life. Whether you are a janitor or an investment banker, maximize your relationships by being open to meeting new people, keeping detailed information on those you do meet and treating everyone with respect. Life is indeed a contact sport; it’s time to start building a team.