Dec 112011

box that says "handle with care"There are a number of components we must keep in mind when it comes building and nurturing our strategic relationships. The following seven areas will help you build these key relationships:

Relationships are assets. In any business setting, relationships are assets. As such, they can be created, managed, nurtured, measured, and even discontinued, intentionally and consciously.

It’s all about who cares. Business cannot exist in the absence of people relationships. The stronger the relationships, the more potential for success in the business. It’s not whom you know that counts; rather, it’s who cares whether or not you know them. The more they authentically care – whether the “they” are associates, prospects, customers, or vendors – the greater the potential for success.

People relationships make up the business. When the purpose of a relationship changes, the expectations and “rules” that apply also change. In that sense, the purpose defines the nature of the relationship, which survives until the purpose or desired outcome is met. Then that particular relationship ends, or transforms into a new one if a new purpose is agreed on. Therefore, desired outcome is the organizing factor in business relationships. Without it, there is no meaning to the relationships.

The Desired Outcome defines the business. All relationships can be evaluated with regard to the desired outcome, which may be as simple as casual friendship or as complex as the organization of a federal institution. A marriage contract is one that overlaps broadly between personal and legal aspects of a relationship. The success of a business relationship always refers back to the desired outcome, which might change over time, requiring ongoing evaluation.

The key to success is the core group. Any business, other than “mom-and-pop” operations, is run by a select few, which we refer to as the “core group”. Core groups, committed to reaching the desired outcome, are the key to success. Without an effective inner circle, the business will fail. The potential for success of any business can accurately be predicted on the basis of the cohesion of its core group.

Show me the people. A primary contribution to the structure of cohesiveness is that businesses are not the brick-and-mortar buildings that house them, but rather the relationships that constitute the social network of the individuals making up the organization. Accordingly, the business is the dynamic interaction between and among its members as they focus on the desired outcome. All the rest, including the brick-and-mortar physical space, the paperwork files, and the related inventory (if there is such), are merely the physical manifestation of the business, not its essence.

We have met the business, and it is us. It then follows that the business exists whenever and wherever two or more people communicate to achieve the desired outcome, including virtual connection over the Internet. A “virtual” business may have no brick-and-mortar home yet be highly successful. But it must have a relationship network of individuals focusing on a desired outcome.

David Nour is a social networking strategist and one of the foremost thought leaders on the quantifiable value of business relationships. In a global economy that is becoming increasingly disconnected, David and his team are solving global client challenges with Strategic Relationship Planning? and Enterprise Social Networking best practices.

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