I’ve read many books on professional relationships – and I’ve even written one myself (see Better Business Relationships book by Kim Tasso (Bloomsbury)). But I’m always on the look out for more that are relevant for professional services and practical. This book addresses networking (both in person and through social media), personal brand, internal collaboration, selling and referral management. Published in 2020, this book (written at the start of the Covid pandemic) fits the bill – it’s relevant, practical, easy to read and apply. And quick to read at just 150 pages. SO here’s a book review: Connected leadership – How professional relationships underpin executive success by Andy Lopata.
The importance of professional relationships
The need for your network to extend beyond your industry “bubble” to underpin leadership challenges is one supported by the research quoted in Range – How generalists triumph in a specialized world” by David Epstein (kimtasso.com).
Lopata quotes Luca Signoretti’s six performance change levers of “relational leaders”: Agility, talent development, knowledge and skills, collaboration, creativity and innovation and growth opportunities and adds support to the list.
There are numerous mentions throughout the book of the need for strong internal relationships to support collaboration, overcome silos and support cross-selling.
I smiled as I saw the author’s strategic/partnership and relational approaches to developing new connections. It maps directly onto my fishing metaphor of targeted spearfishing and serendipitous cast-the-net-wide (which supports those “six degrees of separation” random connections). He extends this by suggesting you need three types of relationships: influencers, intermediaries/introducers and source of ideas, information and insight. Both horizontally and vertically (across generations).
In the personal brand section there’s reference to Harvey Coleman’s research on the impact of PIE (Performance (10%), Image (30%) and Exposure (60%)) – which is similar to Garfinkle’s PVI (Be more visible – the PVI model (kimtasso.com)) the the PIA model How do you make a personal impact – Make a difference (kimtasso.com).
There’s more detailed guidance on personal branding in Building a personal brand – Key Person of Influence (kimtasso.com)
There’s an overview of the steps to build an influence map™ which is a form of stakeholder mapping. And guidance on scoring strength, knowledge and influence. And there’s an exploration of trust in you, your organisation and your service (see trust for better business relationships (kimtasso.com)) – as well as associated trust (which is sometimes referred to as the halo effect).
There’s an interesting diversion in how to protect your reputation – with advice to avoid anti-social behaviour and the challenges of social media (there’s great advice on this topic in Book review: Managing online reputation – How to protect your company on social media by Charlie Pownall – Kim Tasso). And I enjoyed his “Eight rules of dialogue” from Prague.
Networking at events and conferences
The author suggests you set aims for attending third party events and that leaders give advice on what I call ambassadorship – how you want others to think, feel, say and do as a result of engaging with them. He advocates contacting people in advance of events (and following up) and allocating two third of your time with scheduled catch-ups leaving some time for those random connections. There’s also guidance on hosting your own events. And he advises thought leadership rather than active selling at events.
(The 2022 book Book review – Great networking by Alisa Grafton (kimtasso.com) provides more detailed advice from a young corporate lawyer on networking for professional services).
The importance of social media is raised – especially for new “connected” generation. Not least for its value for research and remaining “in sight, in mind”(I refer to this as “staying on the radar”). The author suggests a social strategy to be selective in your choice of platform – and recommends LinkedIn where he suggests you spend 10 minutes a day to like, comment and share.
Nurturing professional relationships
He offers a simple tool as part of your referral strategy to grade potential referrers on willingness to refer, understanding and opportunity. And he mention’s Dunbar’s law (Client relationship management (CRM) – how many close social (kimtasso.com)).
His analysis of the structure of a network extends the levels of relationship to seven (recognise, know, like, trust, support, advocate, friend) and links this to guidance on the frequency of contact. And he shares Carol Stone’s advice (whom I was fortunate enough to meet at one of her birthday celebration events a few years ago) “Make friends when you can, not when you need them”.
There’s some great practical tips then including: 24-7-30, two for the price of one, never eat alone (from Keith Ferrazzi’s book), saw this and thought of you, random calls, introductions and Dale Carnegie’s advice to make it all about them (see Book review “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie (kimtasso.com)).
In the section on leveraging your relationships, he says “Your job is to make it as easy as possible for other people to help you”. And he poses some questions to ask yourself to help you do this. In this regard, you might find this book useful: Reinforcements: How to get people to help you by Heidi Grant (kimtasso.com)
Loneliness was a topic addressed back in 2018 by Buzzacott’s leadership development team (Lessons in leadership – personal brand, presence, stages (kimtasso.com)). Lopata reports research that 30% of senior executives have experienced a bout of depression (see art and science of overcoming clinical depression (2021) by Oliver Kamm” (kimtasso.com)) and 82% find it difficult to talk about stress and depression in their company. Despite all the great work on mental health in the workplace. The author points out that it’s often difficult for leaders to talk to people in their own organisation and suggests alternatives including mentors, action learning groups (masterminding) and those in your network.
He also touches on the need to show vulnerability – echoing the work of Brene Brown. And he returns to the value of diverse connections with a reference to the book “Rebel Ideas” by Matthew Syed and support for reverse mentoring.
Build a relationship culture
He talks about leaders encouraging their teams to start developing their deep networks at the earliest possible opportunity. And he suggests delegating the coffee and catch ups to develop a relationship culture where everybody gets involved (suggesting peer-to-peer networking).
He offers some great ideas for reducing internal competition and increasing collaboration such as: communal eating, hot-desking, innovation hubs, action learning sets and technology.
He adds 10 observations about the impact of Covid-19 on professional relationships. It’s interesting as I commented about the importance of check-in telephone calls Marketing in a time of Coronavirus – Pragmatic ideas (kimtasso.com) and the reduction of listening impact of Covid on listening while selling (kimtasso.com).
Professional relationships wheel
I really liked the self-assessment tool “The Professional Relationships Wheel” which addresses 15 behaviours through the building, nurturing and leveraging stages. And the associated action planning wheel. It’s good to know that the author will be working with the Managing Partners’ Forum in its forthcoming leadership development programme.
Contents : Connected leadership – How professional relationships underpin executive success by Andy Lopata
- Why great leaders rely on strong professional relationships
- Building professional relationships
- Managing your profile and personal brand
- The importance of influence
- How to protect your reputation
- Making the room work for you – being strategic around evens and conferences
- How social should you be?
- Nurturing professional relationships
- Leveraging professional relationships – winning referrals
- Loneliness in leadership – the importance of a support network
- All hands on deck – how to delegation the relationship role and build a relationship culture
Further information: Homepage – Andy Lopata including newsletters and podcasts
This book reminds of another good relationships book for the professions – “The Power of Personal (How to connect, Convince and Create Exceptional Client Relationships)” (2019) by Liz Whitaker.
The 2022 book Book review – Great networking by Alisa Grafton (kimtasso.com) provides more detailed advice on networking for professional services.
Andy’s more recent book “Just Ask – Why seeking support is your greatest strength” sounds like a great accompaniment to the collaboration advice in Reinforcements: How to get people to help you by Heidi Grant (kimtasso.com)
It would be remiss of me not to mention my book which considers a variety of psychological tools to help you build internal and external relationships Better Business Relationships book by Kim Tasso (Bloomsbury)!
Future dates for my public workshops on referrer management are shown here SpeakerKim Tasso (mblseminars.com)