In delivering between 50 and 80 global keynote speeches and working with a dozen consulting clients each year, I see more and more clients not diversifying the relationships they build. They become completely dependent upon one large customer, one geographic region, a single supplier, or one dominant distribution channel.
What happens if that one primary relationship deteriorates? Would your world come to a screeching halt?
We often hear about diversification in the context of our financial portfolio but seldom in our relationship portfolio. Like many, if your 401(k) became a 201(k) in the past few years, you know that diversifying your financial portfolio—selling a few stocks here, buying some bonds or CDs there—is a lot easier than diversifying your portfolio of relationships.
The following are a couple of inherent risks of not diversifying your portfolio of relationships. Some risks are obvious. If that supplier or client changes strategy, goes in a different direction, goes out of business, or curtails spending, there will be a gaping hole in your profitable growth curve. The bigger risk is what I call the adaptation risk. You get so close to a client, supplier, or partner that you begin to customize your processes, products, or services to satisfy only that relationship. You change your recruiting or training practices, your marketing strategy, your product specs, or your service delivery methods. Then you wake up one day to realize that you’ve alienated the rest of the market. No other relationships adhere to or value your new direction, and the destination becomes bleak.
The lesson is to always be mindful of diversifying your portfolio of relationships. It’s never good practice to put all of your eggs in one basket, let alone the basket that carries your future!