Reading about major investment failures as a bystander is always intriguing to me. From the significant lack of capital for Fyre Festival to the $9 billion scams by Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, millions of dollars invested in “great ideas” turned out to be entirely fraudulent. For those who invested their earnings in one business, the adage coined in Don Quixote, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” has never been more appropriate.

In the same vein, I would warn you to not place your accounts on one key contact at a prospective company. Single-threading your sales relationships with a key decision-maker is the equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket.

Here’s the thing. What if you got the people within their network — their brother, friends, assistant, or even managers — to buy your product? People would start talking. Their brother might make your product a shelf-staple at their company and their assistant would share its advantages with other assistants in their circle. The ‘network’ effect starts to occur, triggered by word-of-mouth.

That’s why Dropbox became viral through a referral program that went from 100k users in 2008 to 33.9M in 2010 (2). Soon enough, that one single contact you initially targeted would gain your trust and buy your product. Hell, they might even recommend it to the entirety of their network. To put it another way: if you want to change a culture, introduce a big idea, or sell a product/service, reach people, not emails.

Multi-threading relationships is about reaching people within networks (Christin Hume via Unsplash)

But not just any person. The key is this: reach people within networks. That’s what we fancily call multithreaded relationships when we access multiple contacts on the buyer’s end (3). Rather than reaching for one singular contact, the decision-making person, we value the people surrounding those decision-makers because they matter too. As 17th Century English poet John Donne put it: “No man is an island,” and neither are people within our networks. Relationships are what make us human, after all.

At a high level, what multithreaded relationships are doing is attributing value to every person in these sales relationships. Not everybody can be a decision-maker, but they are stakeholders that can influence the decision-maker; be it the secretary or the executive assistant. This perspective humanizes how we should target potential buyers and businesses. Don’t think about target buyers as gods who make decisions for their reports. See every individual as nodes on a spider web of relationships. This way, one could put their eggs in different baskets, diversifying how and where they distribute energy for essential relationships. You could do it too.

Multithreaded relationships aren’t just in sales relationships. They’re everywhere, we just don’t identify them as such.

If you can begin to see that your subset networks have value too — you will begin to wield your power and influence when building new systems, finding potential buyers, customers, and clients. Stop marketing to the wind that blows nowhere. Spread the word, and do so strategically. You can reduce the risk of failing to convert the decision-maker by investing your energy across the multitude of relationships surrounding them on their network.

Think about it like diversifying your investment portfolio.