Adding to the last post, here is the rest of the list of 26 strategic relationship lessons I’ve learned, have supported in working with world-class clients, and watched others do well or not in the marketplace:

11. Intracompany relationships are a critical foundation. A big myth about business relationships is that they’re purely focused on external ones: customers, suppliers, media, etc. There is a reason airline safety videos suggest that you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before helping others. Treat internal relationships with respect, value their input, and reward them for win/win, not “we win!”

12. Business relationship focus is an underrated skill you must master! If you let them, business relationships can become distracting. Like a tree trunk and off shooting branches, they can take you away from your core focus and competency. Don’t let them; stay focused on key levers that move you and your business forward.

13. Business relationship multitasking is a flawed tactical efficiency move! Beyond decreasing your brainpower, it illustrates lack of attention, focus, and caring. When I hear you typing in the background of our phone conversation, it dilutes your relationship capital!

14. Age is more mindset than years! Business relationships demand fresh perspective and unique insights. Challenge #1 is often the mindset; roadmap and toolset come next.

15. Return on Image is very real. How you carry yourself speaks volumes in business relationships. We create our first impressions in 7-10 seconds; we spent the next 10 minutes cementing those initial impressions!

16. Objectivity and brevity are two critical factors in strategic business relationships. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes and do things that you would or wouldn’t do, as well as the ability to get to the point are critical in developing and sustaining long-term, strategic relationships. Combine them and you’re lethal!

17. Transactions come and go; transformations are life changing. Sounds like a quote from a self-help book, but it’s true. Deals, emails, phone calls are but a sliver in the bigger picture. Get in the business of transforming others through your relationships with them.

18. Personal information makes business relationships stronger. Relationships are between individuals, not logos. If you don’t give people a chance to really get to know you, how do you expect them to trust you? I ride a Ducati 999 motorcycle (fast) and have a Siberian husky named Barkley! My kids call him, Sir-Barks-A-lot!

19. Your real relationships shine in time of need. I know several CEOs who had a very strong network – mostly those who wanted something from him / her – but once they were no longer in that role, most of that network decipitated. Real relationships seldom have an agenda, other than your vested interest. Find out who your relationships really are before you need them!

20. Strategic relationships are sometimes sparked by sheer luck! Luck plays a huge part in most of our lives, but I’ve found them particularly valuable in strategic relationships. Put yourself in situations where the relationship luck can find you, answer when it comes calling, and be grateful for it!

21. Strategic relationships take hard work! Times will come when you don’t want to go, do, be, or provide. But like a seedling that takes feeding, care, nurturing, and yes, even pest control, so do your most valuable relationships. Nurture them, feed them, give them sunshine, and keep pests away for them to bear long-lasting fruit in your life and lives of others!

22. The Relationship Value Pyramid I describe in the Relationship Economics book, is very lonely at the 2AM pinnacle level. Most strategic relationships I have are bandwidth challenged, they don’t waste time, effort or resources, and they invest at an absolute peer level. Work hard to become a peer, add value at every opportunity, and never ever lose sight of the journey not just the destination. The view and the experiences are amazing at the top when shared with truly valuable relationships.

23. Ignore the negative voices. “Can’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, will never, impossible, improbable, etc….” voices will always be there. Strategic relationships ignore them. Negative people suck the energy out of the room. Avoid them at all costs and stay the course with the investment efforts you chose to make in your most valuable asset – your portfolio of relationships.

24. Always raise your own bar! There is this dumbing down of Corporate America, which I’ve never understood. Don’t lower your standards; ask, invite, inspire them to raise theirs. If I write or say something you don’t understand, look it up. And surround yourself with relationships that inspire you in return to always reach for new heights – physically, intellectually, emotionally.

25. Think twice, act once! Strategic relationships take years to develop and one stupid, often thoughtless, or short-sighted move to damage or even destroy. Always take the high road. Amazing how in business relationships, not only does karma exists but it’s also very prevalent. Three fundamental laws of relationships: gratitude, reciprocity, and pay it forward!

26. The most strategic relationships I have, I’ve witnessed in action, or have helped others create are fundamentally about the consistent exchange of value! Everybody is busy so what are you doing to take things off their plate, provide independent perspectives, or unique insights. The longer I live, the more convinced I become that critical thinking and strategic investments in real relationships are the other two national deficits we live with!

What can you add to the list? I’m sure together, we could come up with 2600 lessons!

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