I’ve spent the last decade becoming a student of business relationships. Here are, in no particular order, 26 lessons I’ve learned, have supported in working with world-class clients, and watched others do well or not in the marketplace:

1. Write a vision for the types of business relationships you want to develop in the next 12-24-36 months! Personal, functional, or strategic, they should help you grow personally and professionally.

2. Learn to listen to your trusted relationships. Those who really care and have a vested interest in your success can be enormous assets with independent insights on both your strengths and growing edges.

3. Leverage technology as an enabler of strategic relationships, not a replacement for it. LinkedIn, Twitter, and iPads are no match for a cup of coffee with a valued business relationship.

4. Always think of the value you can add, not the cost of the relationship. A cup of coffee, a meal, a flight, all pale in comparison to the opportunity cost of a business relationship. Add value to every interaction and always leave them wanting more.

5. Light a fire within people, not under them. The former is for the long haul; the latter seldom lasts! Passion is contagious; pass it on to your business relationships both within as well as external to the organization.

6. Disengage from business relationships with grace and professionalism. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out for whatever reason. Take the high road – always!

7. Learn to say thank you, I’m sorry, and please forgive me! These three are not said in business relationships often enough and seldom really meant. Be bold enough to say and mean them when appropriate.

8. Money impacts business relationships. Both the abundance and the scarcity of financial resources forces business relationships to make decisions they may not otherwise. Don’t put yourself or others in that situation.

9. Work/Life balance is seldom achievable. Instead, aim for one-life that you can enjoy. Share the journey with your loved ones, personally and professionally. Corporate LOVE will not cause brain damage.

10. Don’t underestimate the power of referrals, fame, and a personal brand. As a mentor has driven into me, if you don’t toot your own horn, there is no music. Write, read, recommend, share, object, commit, and support all when appropriate and necessary.

More coming in the next few days. What can you add to the list? What has worked for you? What growing edge relationship opportunities have you observed in others?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn