It seems like we’re all just a click away from communicating with the most influential people in our industries. We can get “linked in” to potential employers across the country. We can be Facebook friends with former colleagues we haven’t spoken to in years. The degrees of separation between us and the movers and shakers have collapsed. And yet, are any of these so-called relationships real? Will any of these online connections actually go out on a limb to help you? Will they actually take an interest in your success? And ultimately, will they get you to where you want to go?

Probably not. Acquiring hundreds of social media contacts and endless but superficial networking has replaced the cultivation of deep, meaningful relationships with clients, colleagues, and even with friends and family.

It’s not just the distraction of social media that is getting in the way: It is genuinely tougher than it’s ever been to build the trusted relationships you need to thrive in your career. Executives and other influencers could fill their days with meetings. Trying to connect on LinkedIn or cold emailing them won’t do the trick. Your habits must align with certain laws if you want to build the critical relationships you need to succeed. Forming such relationships comes with four major challenges: connecting with people who are crazy-busy and have put up walls to protect their time; becoming relevant to senior executives and other influencers who won’t give you a second chance if the first conversation doesn’t light a spark; resonating with others on an emotional level, and creating a personal connection that brings you into their circle; and making an impact on those most important to you at work and at home.

There is more. In all, we’ve identified 26 Irrefutable Laws for Building Extraordinary Relationships, laws that determine the success or failure of your most critical professional relationships. These laws provide insights into how to connect at the top and build deep, trusted relationships with important influencers. Adapt your own habits to these laws and you’ll be much better equipped to connect, become relevant, resonate, and make an impact.

When you follow these relationship laws, your network will grow. Prospects will become eager buyers. You’ll be seen by clients as a trusted partner rather than an expense to be managed. And, you’ll find the people are eager to help you succeed. When you ignore the laws, however, it’s like pushing water uphill. Relationship building will seem like very hard work—even fruitless.

Lets’ address two of the challenges, connecting and becoming relevant. Without learning how to connect and show your relevance, you’ll never be able to build a long-term relationship with influential people.