87: The Unique Power of Intentional Relationships

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How do we leverage the unique power of relationships to our business advantage? Zvi Band explains why it’s important to be more deliberate in the approach to relationship-building today. He explains his “Capital Strategy” and how it can be used to maintain and develop strong connections with others. He offers thoughts on how HR can foster critical, internal relationships and what to look for when building a culture and hiring for this soft skill. He shares advice for HR leaders on prioritizing and building mutually beneficial relationships.
Zvi Band is the co-founder and CEO of Contactually, a top CRM platform, for relationship-oriented businesses. The company has 75 employees and tens of thousands of customers. Zvi is an engineer, developer, entrepreneur, strategist and startup advisor with both technical and non-technical expertise. He has been named a Washington tech titan four times and holds various awards as well. Besides being the CEO of his highly successful company, he is a passionate speaker and writer and has been featured in the New York Times and The Washington Post, among other outlets. Zvi is the author of the book, Success is in your Sphere: Leveraging the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals, where he talks about The Capital Strategy.
Listen (above) or watch the video (below) to catch Denise's interview with Zvi.

Key Learnings From This Episode

  • Zvi Band Quote on HR Studio PodcastWhat are the barriers to maintaining meaningful relationships? In his research, Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, determined that the average human can only maintain about 150 relationships at any one point in time (The Rule of 150). This is now being exacerbated by technology where we can be connected to so many more people. However, the challenge for the people companies are trying to hire, for the employees, and for business opportunities, everyone else is connected to many people as well. People now need to be more intentional about relationship building.
  • The changing relationship dynamic. People are going a mile wide and an inch deep. For many people, their relationships are nothing more than ‘liking’ a post and commenting once in a while. If they reached out and asked a question or needed help in some way, would we help them? Would they help us? Cigna did a survey of 20,000 Americans, and over half identified as being ‘lonely’ in a world where everyone is surrounded by so many people, which is both startling and heartbreaking.
  • Relationship building is often thought of as a ‘soft skill’ and business goals are thought of as ‘hard’, but they are interconnected. Soft skills continue to be important. What you can ‘scaffold’ around it is the structure and process behind it. That is the point of The Capital Strategy, making sure that you walk out of a meeting and a conversation and take notes of the ‘small talk’. It is about making sure that you stay in touch with someone every 90 days because you believe there will be an opportunity for you to work together at some point in the future. These are the hard, scientific skills that allow us to relate more intentionally with other people. It is more deliberate in how we approach people and relationships.
  • The “CAPITAL” strategy for relationship-building:
    • ‘C’ stands for consistency, making sure that we are consistent in our behaviors. It is blocking off time on our calendars and ensuring we are being proactive instead of reactive.
    • ‘A’ is for aggregate. We all have contacts in our phones, email, calendars, LinkedIn and Facebook – how do we build a database of all the people that we know?
    • ‘P’ is for prioritize. We have to prioritize our relationships. We want to relate to people, but we have to start being selective about who we relate with.
    • ‘I’ is for investigate, gaining intelligence around relationships – remembering the small talk, doing our research, and learning people’s wants and needs.
    • ‘T’ is for timely engagement. We have great relationships, but they will never go anywhere if we never speak again. How do we ensure we stay ‘top of mind’ with our relationships?
    • ‘A’ is for adding value. People think networking and relationship building is about following up.  It is actually about adding value, helping each other out.
    • ‘L’ is for ‘leverage’, making sure we are making the best use of our time. It might be hiring a virtual assistant or having email templates.
  • How does this work in the corporate world? In the HR world, it is not always about recruiting. HR leaders know they need to build relationships with people who are not necessarily going to work for them in the near term but might in the long term. It is also good for internal relationships with your own teams as well as how you, as a leader, are helping your team build those relationships. Do you want to ensure that the CEO is having a personal engagement with every employee once a quarter? As a team, how do you identify the retention risks and stay on top of them? The Capital Strategy and relationship building applies internally to organizations as well as externally in order to bring new people in.
  • Zvi Band Quote 2 on HR Studio PodcastWhat are some things HR leaders can do to foster critical, internal relationships? Using ‘Investigate’ as an example – take note of information provided during small talk, e.g., personal weekend plans, the name of someone’s significant other, etc. The next time you talk, you can make the conversation more personal. This shows that you care about that person, not just as an employee, but also as a person. Other examples are remembering their work anniversaries or remembering the foods they like when you go out together for a meal. These are small things that show that you care about the person. It may come across as soft skills, but it is really a strategy.
  • How does this skill relate to company culture? Think about how your company operates now as well as how it will operate three or four years from now. Be intentional about having aspirational values.  When hiring people, don’t solely focus on the job they will be doing in the near term. Think about whether or not they will be bringing the right sensibilities, skills, and values that will matter three to five years out in the pipeline. Be intentional about fostering relationships with C-suite executives that may be aligned with your longer-term goals. For HR leaders, it is not about building the business you want today. It is about building the business you want three to five years from now.
  • Hiring for relationship-building skills. Capabilities and competencies will always be important but when looking for the right ‘fit’ – consider if this person can relate well in this organization? Will he/she be able to build relationships? The ‘airport test’ is not always the right thing (e.g., if you were sitting together at the airport, would you be able to have an interesting conversation with this person?). Reference checks can help not only confirm skills sets but can also provide insight as to how they operate as human beings. Can an individual speak to not only the skills they had in their former role but also the people they worked with? This is especially important when hiring leaders. You want to understand the relationships they were able to build in their previous organization. Are they able to name people who they were able to nurture and grow?
  • Adding value - a step in the Capital Strategy. We are not just trying to follow up. Every interaction is an opportunity to be meaningful, relevant and authentic. An example that highlights this step/strategy:
    • During a conversation with a potential hire about their skills set, the candidate mentioned to the hiring manager that he was playing in a basketball tournament and that their children were also very interested in playing basketball. This was small talk that would normally be overlooked. Instead of the hiring manager sending the typical note stating that it was nice meeting, they ordered a basketball from Amazon and sent it to the candidate with a note saying, ‘I hope you enjoy this with your kids.’ It is not about how much money we spend – it is about what we do to make other people feel important. They leveraged the information and delivered a valuable experience.
  • Is it only about prioritizing relationships that will bring you value? Step back and determine the goals you are trying to achieve. What does success look like? Who are the people who can best contribute to those goals? This is not only about the people who can help you but also the people who you can be of service to as well. It needs to be mutual. This is something people sometimes lose track of.
  • Advice for rising HR leaders. Every business is a series of relationships – with clients and prospective clients, with vendors, and with employees and prospective employees. As long as you focus on the relationships in the business – not just the transactional nature of business – for a longer period of time, it is a fundamental mindset shift that can change the course of your organization.
Zvi Band HR Studio Podcast Show Notes
Zvi Band HR Studio Podcast Show Notes
Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 8:00am
Denise Yosafat
Zvi Band
HR Studio Podcast