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Calendars and Checkbooks are Relationship Priority Proof Points!

What we all schedule and pay for highlight relationships most important to us.

Who are you making time for and investing in?

Give me someone’s calendar and checkbook, and I can tell you about their most important relationships. Calendars and checkbooks are surprisingly insightful tools for understanding priorities and commitments in the context of building and nurturing long-term, value-based business relationships. If you think about it, whether in a personal or a professional context, we make time for and invest in relationships that are important to us. And if the relationships that are important to you are not making time for you nor are investing in you, you need to figure out why!

Calendars:

Here are a few of the reasons why understanding one’s calendar and paying closer attention to both what you schedule on yours and which relationships make time for you is crucial to understanding the health and long-term viability of that relationship:

  • Time Investment: How you allocate your time is indicative of your strategic priorities. Calendars show what and who is important enough to receive your time and attention. Prioritizing time for due diligence, scheduling meetings, follow-ups, and relationship-building activities in a calendar reflects a commitment to maintaining and nurturing those specific business relationships.

  • Planning and Consistency: Regular touch cadence, whether they are meetings, check-ins, or networking events, shows a consistent and planned approach to business relationship nurturing and sustaining. It signifies that maintaining relationships is an integral part of your routine.

  • Responsiveness and Availability: The willingness to make time for someone, regardless of their role/stature, perhaps even at short notice, can demonstrate the value and priority placed on that relationship.

  • Balance: How you balance your time between different demands (work obligations, personal aspirations, professional development) can also demonstrate how you manage relationships and whether you can maintain a healthy and productive blending of what really matters to you.

Checkbooks:

Old school reconciling of our handwritten checkbook registers often comes to mind when I think about where I’d spend my money. Even though it’s all digital now, think about a financial dashboard of your investments:

  • Financial Commitment: Where and how you spend money is a clear indicator of your priorities and values. In business relationships, investment can take the form of direct financial support, purchasing services or products, or investing in joint offerings. For those who lead a team, allocating their teams to a relationship is also an indication of a commitment to that specific relationship's success.

  • Resource Allocation: Beyond direct spending, checkbooks reflect where resources are being allocated. This could be in training, events, or systems that indirectly benefit the business relationship outcomes.

  • Supporting Common Causes: Investment in causes or philanthropic projects important to both parties in a relationship can strengthen bonds. This could be through sponsorships, donations, or joint initiatives to make a real difference in one’s community.

  • Risk and Trust: The willingness to financially invest in a relationship signals trust and a belief in the mutual value of the partnership. It’s a tangible demonstration of commitment to the relationship’s future.

Business Relationships:

Let’s break one’s relationships into two distinct categories:

  1. Relationships we already have - and I can break that down further into:

    1. Internal relationships (think those inside your organization) and

    2. External ones (customers, prospects, partners, collaborators, investors, media, etc.)

  2. Net new relationships we need to develop - again, I can break this group down further into:

    1. Known relationships we aspire to get closer to

    2. Hidden relationships we don’t see, or we’ve yet to realize are critical to our success.

Let’s begin with the relationships we already have. Most we’re neglecting, post-pandemic, see less frequently in-person, thanks to virtual substitutes, and in a deranged misperception that we always want/need more, we keep pursuing shiny new objects vs. doubling down on those who already know, like, trust, and (hopefully) respect us. Want proof? Let me ask you a handful of questions:

  • Can you make a list of your top 100 relationships? A simple list of the relationships you already have, which are most important and valuable to you, and how you define success. Maybe the first 10-20, how about the rest? Did you sufficiently consider internal relationships supportive of your efforts, as well as external ones?

  • Is each individual’s info organized, updated, enriched with complete contact info, and readily accessible without you having to turn your work upside down to find them?

  • How proactively do you touch base or add value to their work and life? What were your last three touches, and do you have a regular sequence for staying in touch, adding value, and getting caught up on both sides with updates?

  • Beyond what they do for a living, how well do you really know them, what they do for fun/outside of work, their significant other, kids, or home address?

  • If every referral is a recommendation, within or external to the organization, how often are they referring you? If they’re not, why not?

Sociologists refer to this as being Ambient Aware. The more knowledgeable you are about your relationships, the more proactively you can nurture them.

Now, let’s switch to the relationships you aspire to identify, nurture, sustain, and capitalize on over time, both known and those you’ve yet to meet. I’ve long referred to this group as my Pivotal Contacts. For example, I know of Ed Bastian, the Delta Air Lines CEO, and aspire to get to know him better. And there are hosts of individuals I’ve yet to meet who could be incredibly valuable in our efforts to build and scale Avnir. How organized is this list? Again, let me ask you a handful of questions:

  • How organized is this list? You may not know a lot about them today (although increasingly difficult to use this as an excuse with the plethora of available online tools/platforms).

  • How aligned is this list, not just with a generic Ideal Customer or Partner or Investor Profile, but an Ideal Relationship Profile? What I’ve learned over the years is that if your values, purpose, focus, and aspirations aren’t aligned, as well as the season of your career and realm of responsibilities, you may uncover transactional contacts, but they’ll seldom become a strategic relationship.

  • How committed are you, really, to personalizing every interaction? THE fastest way to kill any relationship is careless automation. Want proof? Ask your relationships how many thoughtful, highly personalized, customized, intelligent emails they get in a day, week, or month which was memorable and actionable.

  • Do you have existing relationships who could help you create access to or an opportunity to meet and interact with your Pivotal Contacts?

  • How can you connect the dots between the relationships you already have and the ones you need to accelerate your performance, execution, and results?

Morale of the story, your Relationship Bank is critical to your success and the genesis for building authentic, mutually valuable, and long-term relationships. That relationship bank begins and ends with your calendar - whom you make time for, who is making time for you, intentionally, proactively, and with rigor, scheduling time to reach out, connect, engage, and intelligently influence. Similarly, both make investments (of time, effort, and resources) for your most valuable relationships and ensure they do the same when you create value in every interaction.

Calendars and checkbooks are more than just organizational tools; they are reflections of one’s priorities, values, and commitments. In the context of business relationships, they play a crucial role in building trust, demonstrating commitment, and ensuring that relationships are nurtured and valued over the long term.

Don’t fear - I’ve created templates for both your existing Top 100 relationships and your Pivotal Contacts. Comment below, and join our Avnir Forum to get copies. Nour

Relationship Economics, Co-Create, and Curve Benders by David Nour

David Nour is the author of 12 books translated into eight languages, including best-sellers Relationship Economics®, Co-Create, and Curve Benders. He regularly speaks at corporate meetings, industry association conferences, and academic forums on the intentional, quantifiable, and strategic value of business relationships. He’s also the founder and CEO of Avnir. Learn more at Avnir.com/Leadership or DavidNour.com.

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