Everyone likes a good shortcut, but the fact of the matter is, there’s no such thing as a shortcut to power relationships. These kinds of bonds require a strong foundation, and can’t be rushed.
You may find some exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, power relationships require time and dedication on both sides in order to lay a solid foundation of mutual respect. Only then will you start to reap the benefits.
Another rule for power relationships is integrity. This pertains to the core principles of honesty, consistency and reliability, which must remain uncompromised.
Another key ingredient to power relationships is empathy. To illustrate this rule, the author relay an anecdote they heard from a CEO who’d brought in an outside investment banking firm to evaluate the company. For his part, the CEO had a dedicated team working around the clock to prepare the evaluation. But at one point, the bank’s boss entered the room, and without showing any respect or empathy for the team’s effort, he picked up an employee’s sandwich and began eating it!
Eventually, that employee became the Chief Financial Officer, and he made sure they never worked with that bank again.
Once you’ve set the foundation for a power relationship, you can create an even deeper bond by establishing trust. And the thing about trust is that to earn it, you also have to give it.
Without trust, relationships are doomed to fail from the beginning. For example, when a man at a New York City steakhouse went to pay his bill and realized he’d forgotten his wallet, he tried to explain this honest mistake to the owners, but they weren’t having it. He even offered to leave his iPhone behind while he ran to get his wallet, but instead, the owners had him arrested!
Trust looks a lot different: Once, in a restaurant in Paris, one of the authors realized he’d forgotten his wallet in his hotel room. But rather than causing an embarrassing scene, the waiter contacted the hotel and had it all sorted out peacefully.
No one benefits from a lack of trust. It makes the business look insulting and the client feel like a criminal. But when you do offer trust to your clients, you put yourself in a position where you can form lifelong relationships with loyal and appreciative customers.
Another rule for power relationships is to prevent things from getting stale by regularly switching up the routine.
We also see this in romantic relationships, as studies show how couples who regularly change their date night routines tend to feel more intimate and closely connected than couples who do the same thing every time.
With that in mind, try making time together with your business partners and potential clients memorable. The next time you’re scheduling a meeting with a client, don’t just settle for the same old place. Instead, think of a new environment where you and your client can create a unique experience.
As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So naturally, meeting someone for the first time can be stressful.
When you’re about to sit down for an interview, you’re probably hoping that you’ll present yourself in a good light and have the right answers. However, it can often look better to have the right questions.
It’s also good to ask questions that show you’re interested in what the other person thinks. When a CEO was giving a Q&A at a big industry conference, it wasn’t the questions about stats, figures and business decisions that interested him. What delighted the CEO was when he was asked more personal questions, like what he was most looking forward to in the years ahead. When one of the authors asked him this question, he not only became visibly energized in talking about an upcoming project, he thanked the author afterwards and told him to get in touch.
If your meeting gets off to a rocky start, don’t panic. You can usually make a good impression by bringing up a shared interest, since having commonalities is always helpful in building strong relationships.
So don’t dismiss a relationship if things get off to a rocky start. There’s always a chance that a bad first impression can lead to a life-changing relationship once you find that common connection that’s just waiting to be discovered.
It’s highly competitive out there, so everyone is looking for new ways to gain an edge in keeping their current clients and gaining new ones.
That’s why treating potential clients as though they’re already a valued part of your team is essential.
Even if someone hasn’t officially signed on to be your client, that doesn’t mean you can’t start treating them as if they have. This includes meeting them for lunches, sharing ideas and inviting them to events where they can benefit from meeting other people in your network.
These are all things that Mary Ellen Rodgers does as the corporate responsibility officer for the professional services company Deloitte. For one prospective client, Mary spent five years nurturing a relationship without ever once mentioning the benefits Deloitte could offer. This strategy, of treating everyone as though they’re already a valued client, has proven to be so successful at bringing in new contracts that she single handedly tripled the company’s revenue. This is just one reason why she’s been ranked among America’s most influential women.
As for your current clients, these relationships can be strengthened by aligning your efforts with their ambitions.
When your clients can clearly see that your work is focused on helping them meet their specific plans for growth and profit, your relationship is sure to become more meaningful. Some businesses will boast to their clients that they’re using advanced technological methods to invest their money, but this doesn’t tell the client that their personal interests are being looked after. So rather than just treating all clients the same, explain how your efforts are centered around improving their specific business and getting them to where they want to be in the future.
If you’ve ever sought out dating advice, you may have been told that people find it alluring when you play it cool and maintain a certain amount of mystery.
This can apply to power relationships as well, as one of the laws states: it’s always good to keep people curious and intrigued. And one way of doing this is to always give people the information they need to know, rather than telling them everything you know. Since the client had not heard this from any other potential consultant, their curiosity was piqued and they were eager to hire him.
Another attractive quality to have is enthusiasm. Other times, however, call for another quality: vulnerability.
During the campaign for the 1952 presidential election, Richard Nixon was running as vice president alongside the Republican presidential nominee, Dwight Eisenhower. Just before the election, reports came out revealing that Nixon may have used his campaign funds illegally.
To weather this storm of bad press, Nixon knew he had to exercise vulnerability, which he did to great effect. What followed was his famous “Checkers speech,” in which he appeared on live TV and humbly asked that, if the people believed that he should remain the vice president, then please write letters to the Republican National Committee saying so.
Nixon’s display of vulnerability led to an outpouring of public support and saved his political career – Eisenhower kept him on the ticket, and won the election in a landslide victory.
We all need a compliment every once in a while. In fact, letting people know you value them goes a long way in relationship building. That said, it won’t help at all if the praise is superficial or insincere.
Building strong power relationships requires a balance of truth and love. Criticism can be useful in helping someone grow in their work, but before you start dispensing your truthful advice, it’s best to first make sure you understand the context of the work in question.
When it comes to giving praise and telling someone how much they mean to you, it’s best to deliver it early. If you sit on it for too long, who knows what could happen in the interim.
Aside from the fact that giving praise and telling someone how much you value them is personally satisfying, it’s also wonderful at strengthening bonds. What often happens is a rewarding boomerang effect, as the person receiving the praise will be eager to pass on a compliment to you, thereby making it clear how strong the relationship really is.
As you can tell, power relationships are a two-way street, with both people giving and receiving, forming a mutually beneficial relationship that can make each person stronger than they would have been otherwise.
Even though it takes time and effort, by engaging in practices such as good conversation and contributing to people’s goals and priorities, you can develop a small network of loyal relationships that will support you throughout your career. When you consciously bring qualities like honesty, praise, enthusiasm, trust and integrity to a relationship, you can expect to receive the same in return.
So here’s a tip, instead of seeing someone skyrocket to success and wishing that some of their good fortune would come your way, it’s time to make your own network for future brilliance. Make a list. This list should contain around a dozen talented people who are still on their way to reaching a peak in their careers. Along with their names, you should list their skills, aspirations and goals, and what you could do to help them.
Can you connect them with someone who could help their career? Do you know an upcoming event that you could invite them to? Try to meet with these people at least twice a month to continue growing your power relationship, and discover the personal and professional benefits of these friendships!
Check out my related post: Do you have emotional intelligence? – Part 2