Have you ever had a “stress test?” I had one just last week.

The purpose, more or less, is to test your heart and make sure all is functioning properly.

In my case, as a man older than, let’s say 35, my doctor thought it would be a good idea. And so off I went to the local hospital.

The process is quite straightforward…

First, they attach a bunch (I think it was 8) of EKG sticky things with wires to your chest.

Next, they take a resting, baseline measurement while you’re just sitting there.

Finally, they put you on a treadmill and you start walking.

Nothing hard about that.

At least for the first three minutes, that is. Because when you reach the three-minute mark, two things happen: both the speed and incline increase.

But still, not a big deal. You’re still walking, you’ve just moved up from “leisurely stroll” to “let’s give the dog a little bit of exercise.”

Guess what happens at six minutes. Yep – more speed, more incline.

Now you’re starting to really move; depending on how long your legs are, it might be time to break into a run.

And so it goes – every three minutes, an additional increase in speed and incline.

When does it stop? Well, that’s kind of the point. They are trying to stress your heart to the maximum. And so your job is to go until you can go no more – you tell them when you’re ready to stop.

And so stop I finally did (12 minutes, 35 seconds, thank you very much). Then, once again, they measure your heart.

You’ll be relieved to know that I’m apparently quite healthy. But there’s even more good news for you today:

Relationship marketing and its related activities – newsletter publishing, social media participating, systematically staying in touch with the people you know, etc. – works in precisely the opposite way as a stress test…

The longer you do it, the easier it gets.

That’s a critical insight for those of us looking to expand our respective solo professional businesses.

Because if you don’t understand that when it comes to relationship marketing, the hard work – the grinding, uphill, sweaty battle – is at the beginning, and that over time it will get both easier and more effective, you’re very likely to give up too soon.

It would be as if someone gave you a “negative stress test,” dropping you on a treadmill, cold, at the 12-minute mark … but never hinting that before you know it, things will be getting a whole lot easier.

Well, today I’m doing more than hinting. I’m telling you, as clearly as I can, that the longer you engage in relationship marketing, the easier and more fruitful it will become.

The more regularly you stay in touch with the people you know, the more they’ll stay in touch with you (and bring you business).

The more consistently you publish your newsletter, the more people who will notice it, read it and share it (and bring you business).

The more available, helpful and “out there” you are, the more other people will be available, helpful and “out there” for you (and bring you business).

Are you beginning to sense a pattern?

Here’s the bottom line. I know relationship marketing is hard in the beginning; it’s a lot of effort for (usually) no immediate payback. But that’s why they call it “the beginning.”

Your job, my tired, sweaty friend, is to stay on the treadmill just a little bit longer.

This article originally appeared here on Blue Penguin Development and has been republished with permission.