I recently interviewed #1 New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned speaker, Keith Ferrazzi. Keith’s two books, Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back?, encourage that business be blended with passion and that personal relationships be mixed with professional. Did you know that your most important business asset isn’t your computer, your equipment, or even your product—it’s your relationships?
“Our research shows that the number-one predictive element of an individual’s success is the number, the quality, and the depth of social capital—the personal relationships among those that they do business with,” said Keith, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, an enterprise consulting, research and training firm.
According to brain studies, the average human brain can only really connect at a deep level with about 150 people at a time, but Keith’s Relationship Masters Academy trains people not to be the average human brain.
Keith explained to me that there are three components of managing great relationships: mindsets, processes, and skills. “Skills can easily be learned. There are tips, tactics, tools, that sort of thing that help somebody be more effective. It’s everything from more effectively knowing how to use LinkedIn, to knowing how to walk in a room and connect fairly instantly with somebody.”
“The process is really something that we don’t apply as readily as we should to relationship management. It’s odd that we have budgets, financial plans, task lists, etcetera, but where do you see a relationship action plan? Where do you see a people list? It almost inevitably isn’t managed.”
Mindsets are more complex. “One of the mindsets is that you have to be able to do this in a very authentic way. You’re not faking anything. The intent is really to build a true personal relationship.”
Keith’s Relationship Masters Academy shows you how to manage your personal relationships in a business context more effectively for greater mutual success. But before you can manage them, you need to know who they are.
The first step is to create a relationship action plan. Start by focusing on your business mission. Then make a list of individuals and prioritize them. Define what you can do for them. Determine how you can communicate the value proposition to them.
“So many entrepreneurs step back and do a fairly poor job of differentiating themselves. Think more broadly. Your product doesn’t answer all their problems, but if you answer a lot of their problems, they’ll give you permission to have time to talk about your product. We call that defining your currency—define how you can be generous.”
I asked Keith that, if increasing the number, quality and depth of relationships is all it takes to harness your most valuable resource, why aren’t more business owners doing it?
“They don’t do it either because they don’t recognize the value or they don’t know that there’s a process to fix the problem. I’m telling them both of those two things are true: There is a process, and you should try it, and the data is overwhelming to show that the predictive element of your success is relationships, whether that’s getting new jobs, promotions, or sales.”
I call this a consciousness of the relationship, being very conscious of what you can do for others and how you can help them, thereby developing symbiotic, life-nurturing relationships. And as a result, business becomes easier.