Now Is the Time to Build Your Level 3 Relationships

The current environment is stressing many types of relationships. Clients are being forced to postpone contracts with long-standing providers. Parents and adult children are living under the same roof for the first time in years, at times uneasily. Loved ones are separated from each other because of stay-at-home orders.

At the same time, this turbulent time presents many great—even unique—opportunities to strengthen our most important ties.

There are, fundamentally, three types of relationships.

LEVEL 1. These are transactional or utilitarian relationships. Many business relationships are like this—a vendor sells a product to a customer, for example, but never establishes a real personal connection with them Or, you have a colleague you collaborate with to get work done, but you don’t really know him or her personally.

LEVEL 2. Next are personal relationships, where you have gotten to know each other as people and discovered common interests and possibly shared values. Some work relationships become personal, including the best client relationships. In fact, I argue that clients only truly root for you when you’ve reached this level. Family and friends would also be in this category.

LEVEL 3. The highest and rarest level is represented by transcendent relationships. In transcendent relationships, you have a deep commitment to a shared purpose and values that transcends the day-to-day. Click To Tweet The relationship includes a focus on something that will live on beyond your lifetime and rises above your immediate, material concerns. Examples of these could include deep family relationships that perhaps span generations, faith-based relationships (e.g., with someone from your church, synagogue, mosque, or sangha), and relationships that are developed in a tightly-knit affinity group with common values and strong sense of purpose (e.g., the military, a sports team, etc.). Today, I believe these transcendent relationships are especially important to maintain our equilibrium, sense of hope, and ability to cope with circumstances that are wildly out of our control.

This is a time to focus on developing your level 2 and level 3 relationships. Can you elevate some personal relationships to transcendent ones? More broadly, what relationship-building opportunities lie in front of you during this period of crisis?


Week 12 in my newly-released book, It Starts with Clients: Your 100-Day Plan to Build Lifelong Relationships and Revenue, focuses on how to make a strong personal connection with your clients and create lifelong loyalty. You can buy a copy here, and also get my free Growth Guide to help you implement the strategies from the book.

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