Questions to Ask Yourself about Strategic Relationships and Your Professional Services Organization

Dr. Purushothaman
January 22, 2014


Here is an outline for an annualized strategic relationship plan for partners of a professional services firm. Such a plan should be reviewed monthly for success of execution milestones and quarterly for strategic viability. You should also identify an accountable peer and proactively correspond with them about your progress. Develop a personal board of advisors to serve as a sort of air traffic control for some of the more challenging strategic relationship discussions.
Part 1: Looking Back - A Historical Perspective
Begin with a historical perspective of the previous year's marketing and business development efforts. Assess what we refer to as your relationship-centric goals and objectives that mandate strategic relationships to achieve. Also include the specific relationship development efforts you made to not only reach each goal, but your overall results for the previous year. Emphasize the who success stories and ask the who questions. This does not mean highlighting what you did to succeed, but instead which relationships most appropriately enabled you to achieve significant milestones and your overall success.
Next, quantify the outcomes of your partnership efforts during the preceding year. Keep the focus client-centric by naming the client-specific colleagues and other consultants you introduced and the results you accomplished through collaboration.

What did you do last year to collaborate with a purpose and what were the results of that collaboration? (Most people have a lot of meetings for the sake of having meetings without solving client-centric problems.)

Describe additional relationship-centric accomplishments made during the previous year.

Part 2: Looking Forward
The real aim of Strategic Relationship Planning is forward-looking and future proofing. Devote the time and effort to consider the following objectives.
Your Current Relationship Bank
Set aside most individuals' desires to meet new people. Many do a terrible job getting their arms around the relationships they already have. Beyond the perception that it's all about quantity, they neglect to understand and truly leverage the diversity and quality of their relationships. They don't realize that the more diverse the sources of interesting and relevant contacts, the broader your sphere of influence. Likewise, the higher the business stature of one's diverse Relationship Bank members, the more likely access to and opportunities with influential relationships he seeks.
But you can't possibly improve anything you don't measure, so start with the fundamentals regarding the clarity, accuracy, and relevancy of your current portfolio of relationships by asking the following questions:

How current is the information in your personal contact list? Are contacts appropriately categorized to reflect the diversity and quality of those relationships?

Besides basic contact information, what initial insights have you captured regarding the nature of the relationship? What are your current plans to enhance the information you track on your most valuable relationships?

How often did you review your entire portfolio of relationships in an effort to enhance that portfolio?

How succinctly have you identified your ideal relationship profile, including key characteristics critical for lasting and consistent year-after-year personal and professional growth through those relationships as compared to short-term transactions?

How aligned is your list of target relationships for the upcoming year with that ideal relationship profile?

Did you neglect some key relationships in the past year? If so, what are your plans and time frames to reinvigorate them?

About the Author
David Nour is a social networking strategist and one of the foremost thought leaders on the quantifiable value of business relationships. In a global economy that is becoming increasingly disconnected, David and his team are solving global client challenges with Strategic Relationship Planning™ and Enterprise Social Networking best practices.

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