By Sunny Simon

     There are many factors contributing to a successful business life. One of the most critical skills, one that should be a core competency, is relationship management.  Need a definition? Relationship management is an approach used to create and maintain a tight connection, or bonding with others.

     This week I spoke with Sara, a bank VP and client of mine, who related a story about a man who frequented her bank, usually in flip-flops and shorts. Her soon to be hero maintained a checking account balance under $500. Sara, who practices savvy relationship management skills, excels at getting to know the bank clientele. She consistently  acknowledges, assists and makes customers feel valued regardless of their deposit and investment dollar volume. One day Mr. Flip-Flop walked into her office with two gifts. He presented her with a Starbucks coffee and explained the desire to open a second account. As she began to assemble the documents, he presented her with a check in excess of $10,000,000. (Yes, that is correct. Those zeros are not a typo.) Sara smiled when she told me that check put her branch well over the goal for new deposits which meant a nice bump in her annual bonus.

     Whether you are a business owner, employee or freelance contractor, cultivating relationships should be high on your daily to-do list. If you practice relationship management not every day will yield a $10,000,000 benefit, but you will profit from honing that skill. 

     Consider this, a study by Robert Waldinger, a clinical professor of psychiatry and Director, Harvard Study of Adult Development, concluded that building positive relationships is one of the five habits of self-made millionaires. I don’t know Mr. Flip-Flop’s background, but it is possible he is a wealthy self-made man intent on banking with an institution headed by a person who forged a relationship and valued his business small or large. 

     If relationship management is not in your wheelhouse, take heed. The talent to effectively build solid connections can be learned, but it requires forcing yourself to expand beyond your immediate circle. Seek people out and focus on spending time with them. I’m sure Sara didn’t get to know the flip-flop millionaire by sitting in her office with the door closed. Bear in mind, effective relationships require reciprocity. In other words, you will only get as much as you give.

    Set a goal to add breadth and depth to your network. This week enjoy the time invested in renewing and reshaping your relationships. Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at