The Importance of Building Relationships with Zvi Band

by Elizabeth Rowe (She/Her)

Building Relationships

Interview with Zvi Band About Building Relationships

Zvi Band is focused on building tools to bring folks back together. He’s currently building GoodSphere, Relatable, and The Sphere. These four projects are all resources focused on building relationships, and communities in a variety of mediums. ZVI co-founded Contactually and led it as CEO from an idea in 2011 to an enterprise SaaS company that was acquired by Compass. He served as general manager at Compass from 2019 to 2021 when he left to pursue his current projects. This week we asked him 7 questions about his experience and career path. 

How did your career as an engineer lead you to become an entrepreneur and author?

When I look back at my career, the transformation I've undergone is nothing short of hilarious and unexpected. Originally, I embarked on my professional journey as a software developer. However, early on, I realized that success in my field required more than just technical skills. Building and maintaining relationships proved to be just as crucial, if not more so.

This realization set the stage for a significant shift in my focus. I began to understand how professional relationships are built, cultivated, and sustained. This exploration became a core part of my career development, influencing my approach to work and interactions with others.

My journey didn't stop there. Along the way, I ventured into various roles and projects that, in hindsight, all connected back to my initial revelation about the importance of relationships. I became an entrepreneur, wrote a book, started a coaching business, and engaged in public speaking. Each of these endeavors served a purpose in my overarching mission.

For instance, the book I wrote was designed to help people better utilize software. To my surprise, readers started reaching out for advice not just about the technical aspects, but also on how to build and maintain relationships in their professional lives. This demand naturally led to the creation of my coaching business. It was a logical progression from author to coach, fueled by the needs and questions of my readers.

Reflecting on this journey from 2006 to 2023, the transformation is amusing and profound. The skills and experiences I've accumulated along the way have all contributed to my current role as a coach, helping others navigate the complexities of professional relationships. It's been a winding path, but one that underscores the interconnectedness of skills, experiences, and personal growth.

Why should anyone be more intentional about their relationships? Why is that important?

That's a great question, and it really boils down to two parts: why are relationships important in general, and why are they particularly crucial now?

From the moment we enter the world, we are inherently designed to rely on others. As infants, we need the support of one or many people to survive and thrive. This need for social support continues throughout our lives. Our ancestors, living in prehistoric times, depended heavily on their social bonds for survival. A solitary existence in the harsh environments they faced would have meant almost certain death. This instinctual reliance on social connections has carried through to modern times.

In today's world, trust plays a significant role in our decisions. We often trust recommendations from people we know more than anonymous online reviews. In professional settings, personal references can significantly influence hiring decisions. Most jobs are filled through personal connections, highlighting the enduring importance of relationships.

While relationships have always been important, they hold even more weight in the current era. Technological advancements have enabled us to work with anyone around the globe. This means that the competitive landscape has expanded far beyond our local communities. The skills gap has narrowed because we can collaborate with people from anywhere. Similarly, the knowledge gap has decreased since we can access vast amounts of information online.

In this interconnected world, trust becomes a vital currency. Despite the abundance of information and the ease of global collaboration, the "trust layer" of the internet is still underdeveloped. In a recent conversation, a key insight was that while we can easily find information, the challenge lies in discerning whom and what to trust.

This is why building and maintaining relationships is more important than ever. Personal connections provide a foundation of trust that is crucial for navigating our increasingly complex world. Whether for personal or professional purposes, strong relationships offer support, reliability, and a trusted network that can help us achieve our goals.

In summary, relationships have always been a cornerstone of human survival and success. Today, in our highly connected world, they are even more essential. As we navigate an environment where information and opportunities are abundant, the trust built through personal relationships becomes invaluable.

Talk to me a little bit about that intentionality. How should I be intentional about building relationships?

In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining relationships has become more complex than ever. If we look back at our great-great-grandparents, their professional and social interactions were far more limited. They often worked at one job for most of their careers and interacted with the same 150 or so people. This number aligns with Robin Dunbar's research, which suggests that humans can comfortably maintain about 150 stable relationships. Although this theory has been debated and expanded upon, it highlights a key point about the limitations of our social capacities.

Now, consider your daily life. A quick glance at your calendar or social media will show the vast number of people you interact with regularly. Our brains are simply not equipped to manage this volume of relationships effectively over time. This is where the concept of intentionality becomes crucial.

In my experience, I've faced this challenge head-on. When I was building a consulting business, I was highly focused on delivering exceptional service to my current clients. However, this often led to neglecting past clients and new acquaintances. I’d meet someone for coffee and, within weeks, forget about them—not out of negligence, but because my brain couldn't retain all that information. This isn't a personal failing; it's a natural limitation of our cognitive abilities.
To address this, we need to be much more intentional about how we manage our relationships. Here are a few strategies that can help:

  • Prioritize Key Relationships: Identify the relationships that are most important to you, both personally and professionally. Focus your efforts on maintaining and nurturing these connections.
  • Use Technology Wisely: Utilize tools and apps designed to help manage relationships. These can include CRM systems for professional contacts or simple reminders in your calendar to reach out regularly to key people.
  • Set Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular catch-ups with important contacts. This could be a quick phone call, a coffee meeting, or even a simple email to stay in touch.
  • Be Present: When interacting with others, be fully present and engaged. Quality often trumps quantity, and meaningful interactions can strengthen relationships more than frequent, superficial ones.
  • Reflect and Adjust: Periodically review your network and interactions. Reflect on who you’ve been in contact with and who might need more attention. Adjust your approach as needed to ensure you’re not neglecting important relationships.
    By being intentional and strategic, we can overcome our natural limitations and maintain the relationships that matter most to us. In a world where we are bombarded with interactions, it's this deliberate approach that will help us build and sustain meaningful connections over time.

Can you talk about where software begins and where you have to take over as a human in developing those relationships?

Absolutely, let's delve into this topic. A well-worn metaphor comes to mind—one that perfectly encapsulates what I've learned over the years: building tools without a strategy is like having a fishing rod without knowing how to fish.

Years ago, when we developed Contactually (now Relatable), we created an exceptional tool for building and maintaining relationships. It’s a fantastic fishing rod, so to speak. However, what became apparent early on was that people were not just looking for tools—they were seeking a comprehensive strategy. They needed more than just the rod; they needed to learn how to fish.
A good fishing rod is just the beginning. To succeed, you need to know:

  • How to Fish: Understanding the techniques and nuances of fishing.
  • When to Fish: Knowing the optimal times and conditions.
  • Recognizing a Catch: Identifying when you’ve succeeded.
  • Navigating the Boat: Managing all the logistics, which I learned the hard way recently.

In 2019, I wrote a book called Success in Your Sphere. This book was designed to provide not just tools, but a mindset and system for building and maintaining relationships. It aimed to offer a comprehensive approach that included using our tools effectively.
Over the past few years, I’ve realized that even the best tools and strategies aren’t enough if people face internal blockers and lack motivation. This insight led to the creation of my other business, Good Sphere, which focuses on these psychological and motivational aspects. Here, we help people overcome internal barriers and develop the drive needed to apply the strategies effectively.

Success in building and maintaining relationships requires more than just the right tools. It requires a well-thought-out strategy, an understanding of the process, and the motivation to execute it. 

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Invest in Learning: Just as you would learn to fish, invest time in understanding how to build and maintain relationships.
  • Develop a System: Create a structured approach to manage your relationships, similar to how you would plan a fishing trip.
  • Use the Right Tools: Leverage tools like Contactually and Relatable to support your strategy.
  • Overcome Barriers: Address internal blockers that might hinder your efforts and stay motivated.

By combining these elements, you can effectively build and maintain meaningful relationships. It’s about having the right tools, the right strategy, and the right mindset. This holistic approach will help you succeed in your personal and professional relationships.

What is the biggest mistake that you see people making when it comes to relationships?

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time pondering this issue, and I want to address it from a deeply thoughtful perspective. At Good Sphere, our primary focus is understanding the biggest behavioral blockers that prevent people from effectively building and maintaining relationships.

One major blocker we’ve identified is time—or rather, the lack of proactive time management. Many people spend their days in reactive mode, responding to emails, messages, and immediate demands. This leaves little room for proactive engagement, which is essential for nurturing meaningful relationships.

However, the most significant and often overlooked blocker is fear. This fear manifests in various forms and higher-level excuses, such as:

  • Fear of Sounding Salesy: Worrying that reaching out will make you seem like you’re just looking for something in return.
  • Fear of Rejection: Concern that the person you’re reaching out to will assume you want something, like money or favors.
  • Fear of Lacking Value: Doubting that you have anything worthwhile to offer in the conversation.
  • Fear of Judgment: Anxiety about reconnecting after a long time, fearing that the other person will resent the lack of contact.
  • These fears are often unfounded. The stories we tell ourselves to avoid pressing “send” are typically exaggerated scenarios that rarely reflect reality. Most of the time, the person on the other end is likely to appreciate the effort to reconnect, regardless of the time that has passed.

At Good Sphere, we dedicate a significant amount of time to coaching people through these fears. Our goal is simple: to help individuals get out of their own way and just reach out. Here are some strategies we use:

  • Reframe Your Mindset: Shift your focus from what you might get out of the interaction to how you can provide value or simply reconnect on a human level.
  • Prepare Meaningful Conversations: Think about what you can say that would be of genuine interest or help to the other person. This reduces the fear of coming across as salesy.
  • Set Small Goals: Start with small, manageable steps. Reach out to one person at a time and gradually build your confidence.
  • Acknowledge and Address Your Fears: Recognize that fear is a natural part of the process. Discussing these fears openly can help demystify them and reduce their power over you.
  • Practice Regularly: Like any skill, building relationships improves with practice. The more you reach out, the easier it becomes.

Ultimately, overcoming these behavioral blockers is about taking that first step and reaching out. The act of initiating contact can often dissolve the fears and stories we’ve built up in our minds. By being proactive and intentional, we can foster deeper, more meaningful connections that enrich our personal and professional lives.

In conclusion, while time management and proactive engagement are crucial, addressing and overcoming the fear that holds us back is equally important. By reframing our mindset, preparing meaningful conversations, and practicing regularly, we can break through these barriers and build lasting relationships. The key is to get out of our own way and take that first step toward connection.

You often mention that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to creating these barriers that stop us from making the call. How do we confront and overcome that fear? Asking for a friend!

At Good Sphere, we teach a core mantra: We are only responsible for our second thought and our first action. This principle is vital when confronting the fears and doubts that often prevent us from reaching out to others.

Consider a common scenario: you see a past donor or client and immediately think, "I don't know what to say to this person. They probably hate me and will think I'm just asking for money." This reaction is normal. As human beings, we are wired for social connection, and anything that feels socially uncomfortable can trigger deep fears of rejection.

Research shows that the neurological receptors for social rejection are the same as those for physical pain. So, it makes sense that we fear these interactions as if they could physically hurt us. This is our first thought—a natural, instinctive response to potential social discomfort.

Our second thought should be a conscious, rational response. Instead of succumbing to the fear, we remind ourselves that the other person is likely not harboring negative feelings towards us. They probably haven't been sitting by the phone for three years wondering why we haven't called. They have their own lives and may have also lost touch with people.

The first action is crucial. It’s about moving past the initial fear and taking a step towards reconnecting. In today's world, where maintaining relationships is vital, this first action can make a significant difference.

One of the most effective techniques we guide our clients through is the "million-dollar text." It’s simple: take out your phone, find a past client or referral source, and send them a message saying, "Hey, just thinking of you. Hope all is well. No need to respond." This achieves two important things:

  • Showing Care: It demonstrates that you care about them. We all want to work with people who care about us and whom we care about.
  • Avoiding Complete Disconnection: It’s better than sending nothing at all and being completely forgotten. A small gesture can go a long way in maintaining connections.

Remember, we are deeply social creatures. Above all else, reaching out and showing that we care about someone strengthens our bonds and nurtures our relationships. By embracing the mantra of being responsible for our second thought and first action, we can overcome the barriers that hold us back and foster meaningful connections.

Breaking through the barriers of fear and self-doubt is essential for building and maintaining strong relationships. Recognize your initial fears, consciously shift your mindset, and take that first action to reach out. This approach not only helps you overcome personal blockers but also enriches your professional and personal life with deeper, more meaningful connections. So, take a moment today to send that simple message. It might just be the start of rekindling an important relationship.

Can you talk a little bit about relationship building in the nonprofit and advocacy of political space?

The quest to understand the dynamics of relationships and community engagement has led me on a journey of exploration over the past few years. It’s not just about how relationships form, but why people gravitate towards certain communities and why some teams excel while others struggle. The answer lies in the profound impact of human connection.

Consider the findings from Google’s research: the highest-performing teams possess a critical attribute—psychological safety. These teams foster an environment where members feel known, trusted, and supported. Similarly, churches have discovered a remarkable correlation between member retention and forming meaningful connections. It’s been observed that once individuals establish six friendships within the first six months, retention rates soar to over 90%.

These insights are not confined to corporate boardrooms or religious institutions—they hold significant relevance in the advocacy space as well. When engaging with individuals in our sphere, whether advocating for a cause or furthering a mission, our aim is to connect authentically on a human level.

Connecting on a human level transcends mere transactional interactions. It’s about demonstrating genuine care, empathy, and alignment with shared values and objectives. This means showing up not with a rehearsed script, but with a sincere desire to forge a connection. It’s about conveying, “I care about you, your concerns, and our shared mission.”

While transactions may be the immediate goal, relationships are the enduring foundation upon which meaningful change is built. In the nonprofit advocacy space, where the pursuit of social impact reigns supreme, the emphasis on relationship-building becomes even more pronounced. Our focus extends beyond securing one-off transactions to fostering relationships that endure and evolve over time.

In the grand tapestry of human interaction, the thread of genuine connection weaves a pattern of trust, collaboration, and collective growth. As we navigate the intricacies of relationship-building, let us remember the transformative power of authenticity and empathy. Let us prioritize human connection, knowing that it is the cornerstone of meaningful change and lasting impact.
In summary, let us embrace the journey of relationship-building with open hearts and minds, recognizing that every connection forged is a step towards a brighter, more connected future.

Tell us a little bit about the current ventures that you have going on and what they are and what you do.
As an entrepreneur, why settle for one project when you can nurture three? That's exactly what I'm doing right now, and I'm excited to share the journey with you. Each of these projects is a labor of love, born from a deep belief that relationships are our most important asset. Let me introduce you to my trio: Relatable, GoodSphere, and The Sphere.

Relatable: Your Ultimate Professional Relationship CRM
Think of Relatable as your trusty fishing rod in the vast ocean of professional connections. It's a powerful CRM designed to help you keep track of everyone you engage with. Relatable ensures you stay in touch with the right people at the right time, remembering all those little details that can make a big difference. Whether it's a client's birthday or a follow-up meeting date, Relatable keeps you organized and proactive in nurturing your professional relationships.

GoodSphere: Empowering Engagement Through Training
GoodSphere is like your personal training program, but for professional relationships. We offer a range of programs focused on helping you understand how to engage more effectively with your network. It's not just about knowing what to do but understanding why you might not be doing it. GoodSphere provides insights and strategies to overcome barriers and enhance your engagement, ensuring you're not just connecting but building meaningful, lasting relationships.

The Sphere: Weekly Wisdom on Relationship Building
Last but not least, The Sphere is my weekly newsletter. It's packed with tactics, mindset shifts, and the ethos behind building strong relationships. Each edition dives into the practical and philosophical aspects of relationship-building, offering actionable advice and thought-provoking ideas. The Sphere is all about fostering a community of individuals who understand the value of relationships and are committed to cultivating them intentionally.

Throughout my career, the common theme has always been relationships. Despite their importance, many of us struggle to realize the full potential of the people around us. That's why I've dedicated myself to creating tools and resources that help bridge this gap. Whether it's through a sophisticated CRM, targeted training programs, or insightful newsletters, my goal is to empower you to harness the power of your relationships.

Do you have a favorite book podcast that you recommend on relationship building or leadership or engagement? What do you have for us?

When it comes to books that have significantly impacted my approach to building relationships and leading effectively, two stand out: Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People and Bill Walsh's The Score Takes Care of Itself. Despite writing and speaking extensively on these topics myself, these books consistently offer fresh insights and powerful reminders that I find invaluable.

I have my own weekly newsletter, The Sphere Press, where I share insights on relationship building. Yet, I frequently find myself returning to Dale Carnegie's classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. No matter how many times I read it, there's always a new nugget of wisdom that resonates with me.

Carnegie's book is a timeless guide to building meaningful connections and influencing others positively. Its principles are as relevant today as when it was first published. Each read reinforces essential practices, such as showing genuine interest in others, smiling, remembering names, and listening more than you speak. These simple yet profound strategies continue to shape how I engage with people both personally and professionally.

Another book that has profoundly influenced me is Bill Walsh's The Score Takes Care of Itself. I'm currently about halfway through it, and it has been unbelievably good. Walsh, one of the most successful coaches of the San Francisco 49ers, turned around the franchise not by focusing on winning games, but by instilling a culture of excellence.

Walsh's philosophy was to control what could be controlled, emphasizing the importance of every detail—from how the receptionist answers the phone to the conduct of the players on and off the field. This approach aligns closely with the principles I advocate: focusing on intentional actions rather than merely reacting to circumstances.

Both Carnegie and Walsh emphasize the power of intentionality. Whether it's in building relationships or leading a team, being deliberate about your actions is crucial. Carnegie's advice on cultivating personal connections and Walsh's focus on creating a culture of excellence underscore the importance of being proactive and thoughtful in everything we do.

As a coach, I often talk about the importance of engagement and instilling pride in one's work. Walsh's success with the 49ers demonstrates how a leader's intentionality can empower a team, fostering a sense of ownership and pride that drives exceptional performance. This mirrors my belief in the transformative power of intentional relationship building.

Thanks Zvi! Have questions? Drop us a note!