Map Your Most Strategic Relationships As Your Guide from Now to Next


This story originally appeared in Inc. As I continue to have conversations with senior executives amid the CO19 pandemic, it seems even more relevant as we all continue to both navigate the storm and explore our post-CO19 new norms.

Tasks and tactics are seldom the elements that make or break your success. More often than not, it’s relationships that determine the scope of your success. But most people don’t operate that way.

To shift the future odds in your favor, I’d like to suggest that you literally map the past 5, 10, or 20 years of your career with a drawing like the one above.

First, pencil in big events:

  • Promotions and raises
  • Firings
  • Launching a company
  • Funding a company
  • Shutting down a project or company
  • Big deals you made… or lost

Next, draw a rough line through these events, like the dashed line in my image. The dips are failures and disappointments; the upward sloping line is for successes.

Now comes the important part. Draw a circle anywhere on your line where critical relationships made a huge difference or failed to do so. The more important the role of relationships at that point, the bigger the circle you draw.

For example, if you tried and failed to raise funding because you lacked enough trusted relationships, draw a big circle before the dip that indicates that failure.

In the same manner, if you got recruited for a big job because a key member of your network recommended you, draw a big circle before that upward-sloping point.

Now, step back and look.

You should have a circle before every significant shift in the line. If you don’t, critical relationships aren’t playing a big enough factor in your career (or you’re not yet recognizing their role.)

In addition, if you have a long stretch of a largely flat line without any circles to indicate a critical relationship, then your career probably stalled because you lacked enough strong relationships.

Relationships are hugely important. You should track them, map them, and nurture them. No other action you can take will have as great an impact on your future.

Specific steps to take:

  • Proactively add value to your relationships. Work hard to make sure they feel better off for knowing you.
  • If someone is worth knowing, they are worth your attention. Create and execute a plan to keep in touch with critical relationships. This takes time and effort, but the dividends can be huge.
  • Share your goals and aspirations openly. People can’t help you if they can’t understand what you are doing and why. Be clear and focused when interacting with others and make it easy for them to participate in your success.

Let me know your thoughts and how you’re leveraging your strategic business relationships to learn, grow, think, and lead differently amid the current crisis.

Be safe and lead visually,


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