12 Relationship Principles For Life

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Relationship Principles for All to Follow

By Andrew Sobel

What beliefs or values guide you as you build your relationships? The right principles can powerfully inform your day-to-day behavior. Over the last several years, I’ve been assembling what I call “The Relationship Principles.” These are a dozen statements of belief and intent that will help you engage with others and build a strong network of trusted relationships.

NOTE: If you are interested in really implementing these principles, you should subcribe to my free 12 week course, “The Relationship Principles” found here on my website. Each week you’ll receive an extended version of each principle, with a set of action steps to help you put it into practice with you clients and other important relationships.

ONE: Build your network before you need it. Isn’t it kind of pathetic when someone you haven’t seen or heard from in 20 years calls you up and asks you to help them? One of my clients was promoted to be CFO of a major company. When her appointment was announced in the media, she was flooded with calls from bankers, lawyers, and consultants who all wanted her business. Her response? She told me, “My question for most of them was: ‘Where were you five years ago?’” Help others with a need, issue, challenge, or problem they have and build a relationship today

TWO: Be generous with your time and wisdom, and help others without any expectation of receiving something in return . When you are always concerned with reciprocity, you essentially do things for yourself. You’re a mercenary: “If I help this person then he or she will give me something I need.”  Last year, I met a member of the church I attend, who told me he had gone to my high school (Collegiate School here in New York City). I did not remember him—but he remembered me. He said, “I never forgot something you did that was kind. I was new to Collegiate, and you were a senior—and seniors didn’t talk to underclassmen in those days! You actually came up to me and welcomed me to the school. It meant a lot to me as a scared, new kid.” Build a reputation as a generous person who thinks about others, and your network will overflow.

THREE: Start a relationship by having a great conversation, not by trying to show the other person how smart you are. It’s really irritating when someone you’ve just met keeps trying to show you how “intelligent” and insightful they are.  You connect with people by finding things in common, understanding what issues they are grappling with, sharing ideas, and so on—not by relentlessly showing you’re the smartest person in the room.

FOUR: Follow the person, not the position. Don’t think in terms of “I want to build relationships with CEOs.” Focus on developing relationships with smart, interesting, motivated, ambitious people; and following them throughout their careers. Do this, and eventually, I guarantee you, you will know some CEOS!

FIVE: Cultivate your own interests so you are interesting to others. Ah, what a nice thought for the New Year! When you have dinner with a client, you only spend twenty minutes talking about business—the rest of the time you discuss family, vacations, books you’ve read, politics, hobbies, wine, and so on. If you want to be a person of interest, you have to develop interests. Read widely, engage in hobbies or avocations, travel, and make sure there are some “outliers.

SIX: Become truly distinctive at something that’s of value to others. In our personal lives, we are drawn to others based on common interests, chemistry, likeability, and other intangible qualities. These factors are also very important in professional relationships, but there is more: In business we look for people who can help us solve our problems and achieve our goals. In other words, you don’t build a professional network based solely on being a nice and interesting person—you have to have something to offer. The foundation of your relationship building efforts has to be a truly distinctive expertise or value that you provide.

SEVEN: Be enthusiastic and passionate about your work…and everything else you do.
Enthusiasm is contagious! Think about the most enjoyable and memorable professors you had in college. More likely than not, they possessed unbridled enthusiasm for their subject. Whether it was Art 101 or Political Science, they drew you in. They captivated your attention and interest. Whether you’re dealing with a client or your boss, or you’re in a job interview, it’s essential to have enthusiasm. It draws people to you. It wins them over to your cause.

EIGHT: Be authentic–If you’re introverted, be comfortable about it; if you’re extroverted, be that way all the time! A best-selling book about networking, published a few years ago, spells out a frenetic formula for relationship building. The author talks about making 50 or even 75 phone calls a day, holding monthly “salons” at his home where lavish dinners are served, and relentlessly doing favors for dozens of people who may one day repay the good deed. I believe a few, rare professionals can do exactly what he describes. But most cannot. When people first meet you, one of the most important things they are looking for is authenticity—that is, is what they see what they are really going to get? Don’t try to slavishly imitate someone else’s style. You have to develop your own, based on who you are and your natural character. Whoever and whatever you are—funny, introverted, cautious, reflective, and so on—be that way all the time.

NINE: Be genuinely interested in others. 75 years ago, Dale Carnegie wrote “You will be more successful by being interested in others’ success than by trying to get them interested in your success.” His assertion is a timeless insight that is as fresh today as it was when he wrote it in the early 20th century. If you’re not truly interested in other people, you should not be in a client-facing role—you should be an engineer or a programmer who works behind the scenes!

TEN: Give some trust to start the trust building process. Trust is the glue that holds together every long-term client relationship. It’s a client’s belief that you will act in her best interests and personally uphold the highest standards of integrity and competency, both inside and outside the office. When a client trusts you, anything is possible—your recommendations carry more weight, and when you propose an additional sale, your client sees sincerity not salesmanship. To start the trust-building process, you often have to extend some trust to the other person. You need to assume positive intentions in their actions. If you walk into a client’s office and you harbor the attitude that “most clients don’t care about a long-term relationship and are just trying to get the best price,” you may find that you precipitate a vicious circle of untrusting behavior.

ELEVEN: Demonstrate integrity at all times. Integrity is a state of wholeness in which you act in accordance with a set of coherent values or principles. In other words, you know what’s right, you’re clear about what you believe in, and you consistently follow your beliefs. Based on interviews I’ve conducted with hundreds of top executives, it’s clear to me that there are four key dimensions to integrity:

1. Honesty
2. Discretion
3. Reliability
4. Consistency

Are you always honest, discreet, reliable, and consistent in your behavior?

TWELVE: Be seen as contributing directly to your clients’ growth and profits, and they will never get enough of you. Be viewed as a cost and you can be cut at any time. You can exercise great relationship building skills as an individual advisor. But if you’re not viewed as contributing to the accomplishment of important goals—revenue and profit growth, innovation, and so on—you’ll be forever seen as an expendable vendor.Do your clients view you as supporting their most important goals? Are you part of their growth and profits? Can you tie your work directly to these things, and show the value of what you’re doing? Or are you a kind of necessary evil, an expense that they have to begrudgingly incur—sort of like when you buy gasoline for your car?

Summary: The 12 Principles

  1. Build your network before you need it
  2. Be generous with your time and wisdom, and help others with no expectation of receiving anything in return
  3. Start a relationship by having a great conversation, not by trying to show the other person how smart you are.
  4. Follow the person—not the position.
  5. Cultivate your own interests so that you are interesting to others.
  6. Become truly distinctive at something that’s of value to others
  7. Be enthusiastic and passionate about your work…and everything else you do.
  8. Be authentic. If you’re introverted, be comfortable about it; if you’re extroverted, be that way all the time!
  9. Be genuinely interested in others
  10. Give some trust to start the trust building process
  11. Demonstrate integrity at all times
  12. Be seen as contributing directly to your clients’ growth and profits, and they will never get enough of you. Be viewed as a cost and you can be cut at any time.

NOTE: If you are interested in really implementing these principles, you should subcribe to my free 12 week course, “The Relationship Principles” found here on my website. Each week you’ll receive an extended version of each principle, with a set of action steps to help you put it into practice with you clients and other important relationships.

 

 


505.982.0211
andrew@andrewsobel.com
Andrew Sobel

I help my clients build enduring relationships with their clients and other important individuals in their lives
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