We can see it all around us, every day. Good relationships gone bad – whether personal, professional, networking, even romantic. And many times, the people involved don’t know why. Right now, you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, Troy, those relationships are so different that it’s simply not possible for all of them to go bad for the same reasons!”
You’re partially right. The truth is that there are a huge number of moving parts in any relationship, and those moving parts differ greatly between the types of relationships. You want different things (hopefully) from a business relationship than a romantic one, for instance. But the reasons that these relationships go bad boil down to three characteristics.
Those characteristics are Knowledge, Ability, and Desire. In any type of a relationship, everyone has a certain level of effort or investment that they will put into a relationship, and that level is governed by Knowledge, Ability, and Desire. This means:
The person has Knowledge of what the other person wants in the relationship;
The person has the Ability to provide those things;
And the person has the Desire to provide them.
Let’s look at a networking relationship. We’ve probably all had potential referral partners that turned out to be successful, and others that turned out to be unsuccessful. A ‘successful’ relationship is one that generates good referrals – an unsuccessful one is one that does not. In this case, our three characteristics would look like this:
Your potential referral partner would have to have the Knowledge of what makes up a good referral for you. It would be your responsibility to teach your referral partner what makes up a good referral – a type of contact, or a situation, that indicates a need for your services. If they don’t know what makes a good referral, they are unlikely to give one.
The potential referral partner would have to have the Ability to provide those referrals. That means they’d need to have access to the people you want to talk to. For example, if you’re looking to speak to owners of small businesses below $10 million, and your potential referral partner has a contact base made up of office managers of larger companies, you’re unlikely to get good referrals simply because they don’t have the contact base. You can’t expect referrals to people that your contact doesn’t know.
Finally, the potential referral partner would need to have the Desire to provide you with referrals. This is the one area that’s really out of your control. If you’ve spelled out what you want in terms of referrals, and the referrals are within the new partner’s ability to give, and they simply don’t give them, it’s an issue of desire. They don’t have the necessary desire to help.
A successful relationship of any type requires all three of the characteristics. Even in interpersonal relationships, we see relationships crash because of a lack of one of these. In analyzing your business relationships, do both of you have all three? If not, is there a way to instill all three? If not, you might consider spending your time elsewhere.