If you think of your broad-based business constituents, I doubt you will find anyone who will argue with the notion that relationships are important, intentional, strategic, and thus quantifiable. Focusing on how to identify, build, nurture and leverage those relationships to maximize execution, performance and results will become a sustainable differentiator in 2008 and beyond.

I would submit that a relationship-centric DNA is habitual. Mastering everyday relationship development habits can create a lifetime of success.

Four critical catalysts will define what we believe are a set of unique traits identifiable by your social style:

Astuteness – Do you go through the day with your eyes open – I mean, really open? When you engage other professionals, do you notice details about them? Are you savvy enough to observe the social intelligence in a team environment? Do you scan the periphery in various meetings, conference calls, off-sites, or critical projects for the political map? Can you succinctly identify decision-makers and influencers – those who can say yes and those who can say no? An astute relationship developer quickly assesses the situation and leverages an array of resources (personal, team-based, or organization-wide) to most effectively align opportunities with business relationships. Said another way, chemistry is critical and unless you master the ability to match the styles of the relationships that are important to you, with either an adaptive version of yours or others on your team, you will struggle.

Inquisitive – I am often amazed at how much we take for status quo. The ability to ask insightful questions will help influence the conversation. Influence the conversation, and you influence the relationship. Influence the relationship, and you will influence the outcome you desire. It is plausible to believe that by sharpening your sense of inquisition you will more effectively be able to verify, validate or void critical assumptions you make about any relationship. Said another way, whether you just met a person or have known them for some time, you must invest resources (time, effort and capital) to really get to know them, what they value, what is critical to their success, and that which they hold dear. Satisfy those needs and your investments of Relationship Currency® will pay great dividends on your Return on Influence.

Intentional – Which relationships will be more strategic to your efforts in 2008? How diverse is your portfolio of relationships? Can you identify gaps in the relationships you need vs. the ones you possess today? How do you know and what will you do about it? These questions in essence point to the critical need to be intentional with the relationships you choose to invest in. Relationship-centric DNA is also a discriminating factor that clearly, succinctly and quickly identifies those relationships which at best will always be neutral in value and at worst actually detrimental to your Reputation Capital® and Professional Net Worth®. Be intentional about your relationships. Said another way, pick your friends carefully.

Follow-through – In observing various kinds of business relationships for the last 20 years, I can’t say that I am surprised, yet I am baffled every time I see commitments made and either no follow-up made or follow-up made but no follow-through. If you are wondering the difference, follow-up is a transaction (sending an e-mail, leaving a voicemail, making a call). Follow-through is a process. It is a commitment towards the outcome. It is the second, fifth and tenth touch. It is diligent and systematic. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it can very often be supported by the simplest tools.

These catalysts tightly integrate to identify four relationship-centric profiles. Stay tuned for our February newsletter for a description of each!