When you spend time talking to business leaders about culture, sales strategy, experience design and talent invariably you are going spend time talking about relationships.

I love to talk about and analyze relationships.  Those closest to me know this and I believe its essential to my body of work.   Speaking, Training, Consulting, Leadership, Brand Strategy & Communication Design…it’s all about the relationship.

I recently attended an outstanding keynote presentation where the speaker remarked that today your Network = your Net Worth.  Good point.

As technology, innovation, value and price exist in an increasingly competitive landscape and level playing field the relationship is back in vogue as mission critical to success.

Here are 10 Key Considerations to Quality Relationship Development:

1.     Be Your Authentic Self – We all desire belonging, acceptance and validation.  Presenting an alternate version of who we are when entering into a new relationship will likely create bigger challenges down the road.  This is true in a job interview, sales transaction and personal situation.  Just be yourself is very sound advice.

2.     Fit Assess – Develop awareness around what you need and desire.  Where do you align and thrive?  What kind of people, connections, support and culture will enable you to be your very best?  I challenge salespeople all the time to define their ideal customer.  Who fits?  Anyone with money isn’t a high value relationship answer.

3.     Focus on Strengths – Spend the most time focusing on what was left in, not what is missing.  Perfectionism and obsessing over flaws can minimize much of what is working and right.  How do you structure performance reviews?  Invariably, we usually know if what is missing is a deal breaker or wholly acceptable.

4.     Be Present – Be there.  Being present means more than having presence.  It means being switched on and engaged in the moment.  I suffered from M.A.D.D. (Manager Attention Deficit Disorder) for years.  Eventually I learned how imperative it is to shut out distractions and focus in the moment.

5.     Be Honest – It’s always the best policy.  You cannot make promises you can’t or don’t intend to keep. That will deteriorate both the relationship and your reputation. Honesty often requires the willingness to have courageous conversations and address conflict head on.

6.     Be Consistent – The experience needs to align with the expectations.  And stability matters. Particularly emotional stability. I can tell you that an organization whose employees are constantly concerned with the “mood of leadership” is an organization derailed.  You can survive but will never truly thrive in an “eggshell culture”.

7.     Communicate – Quality communication establishes expectations, understanding and alignment.  My favorite rule of communication comes courtesy of Dr. Stephen Covey:  Seek first to understand, then be understood.  Communication cycles are critical as well.  The notion that we’ll discuss performance, development, opportunity and alignment at a designated annual review is antiquated.

8.      Listen – Research sites “failure to listen” as the #1 reason salespeople fail.  Listening is an art and acknowledgement that the other person matters.

9.     Give – Unconditionally.  Not because you expect anything in return.  Nurture, care and invest to build something substantive.   Genuine appreciation is almost always present in the context of a quality relationship.

10. Enjoy – When it works it’s a gift…enjoy!

These 10 considerations foster an environment of trust and respect, which form the basis of any quality relationship.

Another important consideration given our time is that you cannot automate relationships.  I believe you can accelerate, expand and influence relationships through new tools and technology.  But meaningful connections that matter need more than 140 characters.

The best relationships are resilient.  They require patience.  They pass tests.  They evolve and endure.  They are hardly perfect.  And ultimately they matter the most.   Any amount of success I have ever achieved had much more to do with the people around me than my individual contribution.

A wise person recently shared with me that success in life is really about the quality of the relationships you have with the people you care about.

I couldn’t agree more.

Want to focus on what is most important now?

A good place to start is the quality of your relationships.

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