I’m constantly amazed by what I can learn, and hopefully the insights I can share, about business relationships, oddly enough, from my children! Recently both my kids played in another soccer tournament – as some of you may know, both play on fairly competitive, traveling teams. I’ve been playing, coaching, referring or otherwise around soccer for almost four decades. I have a deeply routed passion for the beautiful game and have been blessed to play with, coach, mentor or simply watch in awe some amazing individuals and teams in their finest hour on the pitch.

So one would think some of that passion, desire, or competitive gene would pass down to my kids. And you’d be wrong! I know this will come as a complete surprise to those who know how shy and introverted I am (NOT!), but I’m not one of those wallflowers on the sideline watching my kids play. If I see a bad play, I mention it; if I see a bad call by the ref, I typically say something. I see plays developing and want to press a magical pause button, walk on to the field and help my kids get better at anticipating what’s happening around them.

Here is the challenge: I want the outcome more than my kids do! And what I’m learning is that no amount of yelling, coaching, nudging, cajoling, bribing, motivating, or inspiring is going to change that.

Business relationships are the same way. You could want to work with an individual on a project, help them as a client, partner with them to go to market faster or with a stronger value proposition; if the perceived value of and in the relationship isn’t aligned, you’re wasting your time, effort and resources.

I’ve often said that relationships go bad with misaligned expectations. Work that much more diligently up front to establish mutual expectations. Be candid from the onset. Develop a peer-level relationship, become an object of interest, and deliver value in every interaction. But at the end of the day, make sure both sides want the same desired outcome! Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of cycles chasing, pitching, planning, presenting, and meeting people for drinks or meals and have zero to show for it.

If you want more productive business relationships in 2013 and beyond, you have to stop confusing vibration with forward motion!

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