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How To Manage Your Most Important Relationships


Business relationships are critical to helping us succeed, but we don’t always put the work in to cultivate the most important ones. Thus, we miss out on leveraging those relationships for mutual benefit.

There are a lot of people I know, but there are few with whom I have close business relationships. That doesn’t mean I won’t help them if they need it, nor does it mean I won’t spend time with them if they want to spend time with me. But to move from an acquaintance to a friend takes time and effort.

The Relationship Pyramid

Let me introduce you to The Relationship Pyramid, which is made up of 6 different levels of relationships you can have with others. The base of the pyramid (also the largest level) represents the most people, who are likely acquaintances, while the top level (the smallest) represents your relationships, who are more personally connected to you.

From bottom to top, you can determine the depth of your relationship with people who fall into that level:

  1. People who don’t know me by name
  2. People who know me by name
  3. People who like me
  4. People who are friendly with me
  5. People who respect me
  6. People who value a relationship with me

Once you identify which level your contacts are on, you can determine who you want to have deeper business relationships with and then take steps to move them up the pyramid. Keep in mind that every relationship is different, and not all relationships develop the same way. That said, the progression up the pyramid may not always follow a linear course.  

Level 1: People Who Don’t Know Me by Name

The easiest level to develop on The Relationship Pyramid is Level 1. People who fall into this level may not recognize you outside of a work environment. If they do recognize you, they may not remember your name. The first step toward getting someone to remember your name is to first remember their name.

Lots of people say, “I’m so bad with names,” but you don’t have to be! You can start remembering other people’s names by practicing a few simple tactics. In turn, they will start to remember your name, too.

Tips on how to remember people’s names

  • Repeat their name when you’re introduced to them.
  • Try to associate their name with something memorable, like someone else you know with that name.
  • Adopt the mindset that remembering their name is important.
  • Write notes about the person and your conversation with them as soon as you are able to help you remember the person next time you meet them. Make note about any distinguishing features, characteristics, mannerisms, etc. to jog your memory of them the next time you meet.

Tips on getting others to remember your name

  • Learn something personal about the other person, and then share something about yourself. Common topics are family, pets, and hobbies.
  • Look around their office to see if they have posters or decor that give insight into their interests and see if you have similar interests.
  • Listen for shared experiences or tastes for which you can relate to them.

Level 2: People Who Know Me by Name

The second level is more comfortable because it makes you feel appreciated when people know your name. It shows they can distinguish you from other people, but it is just the first step.

Next, you need to learn more about them by asking questions. The Link 20 Questions is a good starting point to guide you in the right direction to making a real connection with someone. Make sure you are genuinely interested in the questions you choose, or you could come across as insincere.  

Be prepared for the next meeting you have with that person by continuing the conversation and asking about subjects you discussed previously.

Level 3: People Who Like Me

People tend to like those who show interest in them. Keep showing interest by asking more questions. Yes, questions lead to answers, and you want to know as much about them as you can. That way, you can uncover things no one else knows, which helps build a unique bond. Don’t interrogate them; just express a genuine desire to get to know them.

One way to do this is to discover what their biggest challenge is right now. Think of ways you can help them, even if it’s outside your area of expertise. Research. Use your network. Relate to their experience and how you or someone you know solved a similar problem or overcame a comparable obstacle.

Continue developing your knowledge of that person and finding commonalities. Think of ways you can add value to them, either personally or professionally.

Levels 4, 5, and 6

The last 3 levels establish you as more than just a business contact. Once you reach Level 4, People Who are Friendly with Me, that person sees you as someone outside of your professional role and more of a friend.

Level 5, People Who Respect Me, means you have earned personal respect from someone, which sets you apart from most other people.

And Level 6, People Who Value a Relationship with Me, is the highest level at which the other person recognizes your relationship as a valuable asset and will exhibit reciprocity when you help them.

For more information on how to build relationships at the top 3 levels of the pyramid, check out Jerry Acuff VT or my book The Relationship Edge, where I walk you through mastering each level of the pyramid so you can develop relationships that will go beyond business and last a lifetime.

ReallyLinked: Stay Connected to People of Influence

While building these relationships takes time, there are tools available to help you stay in regular contact with the people you want to move up the pyramid.

That’s why I developed ReallyLinked, a free app (only for iPhones at this time) that can help you transform your bottom-of-the-pyramid contacts into important business relationships. ReallyLinked helps you manage your day-to-day communication with those most important in your network.   

How ReallyLinked Works

ReallyLinked allows you to upload up to 150 contacts from your iPhone—the ones you deem critical to your success. You probably know more than 150 people, but in reality, most of the people you know won’t have a major impact on your personal or professional growth. Choosing the most important 150 people you need to stay in contact with can be hard to determine, but you can easily add and delete contacts in ReallyLinked as you decide which relationships are most valuable.

The app nurtures those contacts by alerting you of who you need to reach out to each day. You can set manual reminders or schedule automatic notifications to call, text, or email your contacts on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Even better, you can communicate directly from the app. It allows you take notes on what you discussed with the other person, while keeping a historical log of each time you connected. Simple, easy, effective.

The Benefits of ReallyLinked

  • No more worrying whether you reached out to or followed up with someone important.
  • The app tracks your communication and keeps you on schedule so you can focus on other tasks.
  • Over time, you will move your contacts up the pyramid, establishing strong business relationships.

How Do I utilize ReallyLinked in a way that makes me more efficient and effective at managing  50-150 of my most important business relationships? Review the levels of the pyramid to categorize your most important contacts. Who is in each level of your relationship pyramid? Are they where you think they should be?

Use the Link 20 Questions to help build deeper relationships. Download ReallyLinked to start scheduling and tracking your communication with your most important contacts. To be even more thorough, take my online training course Building Business Relationships in Jerry Acuff VT to learn how to be incredible at developing meaningful business relationships.

Use the code JAVT50OFF for a special discount to help you on your way to mastering The Relationship Pyramid.

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