What’s Happening with Your Relationship Portfolio?
“Today, anything can be delegated, automated or outsourced – except relationships.” Ed Wallace, author, Relational Capital
While everyone is familiar with the volatility of their stock-market portfolios these days, it may be worth considering another portfolio that is similarly important to your wealth and health: your relationship portfolio. For most professionals who reach a certain point in their career, they realize there were a relatively small number of critical professional relationships that impacted their career and their business.
Maybe it was an early mentor, who helped frame your early career decisions. Maybe it was a strategic customer that gave you market insights and industry credibility. A networking connection may have helped you cross from one company or industry to another. A strategic partnership may have expanded your universe. Or it could have been a professional community that gave you new insights into market-expansion opportunities. The point is, not all relationships are created equal. Certain relationships are transformative and exponential in nature.
The Blueprint for Evaluating Your Relational Capital Portfolio
When each day brings a seemingly endless succession of back-to-back Zoom meetings and an endless scramble to navigate the “new normal,” it’s easy to become reactive with our time investments. This behavior can trickle into our professional and business relationships. Just as with our financial investments, however, inattention to our relational capital portfolio can be a dangerous lapse.
What exactly do we mean when we speak of a relational capital portfolio? We mean those select strategic professional and business relationships that produce a disproportionate share of our professional, financial or strategic success. While we all have large, transient networks of acquaintances, and even peer-to-peer relationships, it is the much smaller number of indispensable, trusted-advisor relationships that define our long-term trajectory. It is these relationships that can suffer during distracted, uncertain times.
Ed Wallace, author of Business Relationships that Last, reports that although 89 percent of executives believe that strategic relationships drive a large share of their success, only 24 percent of them have a formal, structured system to identify, measure and accelerate those relationships.
Implement the Keys to Success
SPARXiQ collaborated with Ed Wallace to produce our Relationship Quotient virtual training program to bring intentional approaches to customer relationship building to new audiences. In the program, we share the three key steps to a successful Relational Capital portfolio strategy:
Identify Critical Relationships
Who are the individuals (or related enterprises) that are indispensable to your future success? Make a list and be selective. You can probably have a portfolio of fifteen or fewer relationships, with only five or so in focus at any point in time.
Establish a System of Metrics & Tracking
Since we only manage what we measure, it’s critical to establish the KPIs of Relational Capital, and a related system for tracking them. We want to know the indicators of relationship status, and plan for and track changes to them.
Build and Deploy a System to Accelerate Strategic Relationships
Strategic relationships are by nature forward-looking, but activities to accelerate them need to happen in the present. Developing a system to keep them present in daily workflow becomes critical.
There are a few transformative and exponential relationships that prove most important resulting in notable career advancement and strategic success. Ultimately, our commitment to strategic relationships starts with the three building blocks above that help us identify, measure and accelerate these connections. It’s important to nurture these professional relationships by checking in with our relational capital portfolio often so that they don’t deteriorate, but instead prosper over time.