Relational Capital – How Much Do You Have?

In my last post I mentioned that I was at a business conference, Mega Partnering. Well, I’ve been back for about a week and since the jet-lag is now behind me I am itching to share with you what I learned.

I had the privilege to learn from some of the top business and marketing experts in the world during my week in LA. Without a doubt, the most important concept that I took away from the conference is one called Relational Capital.

Jay Abraham, one of the most acclaimed marketing experts of all time, describes relational capital as ethically taking full advantage of relationships you have with people and companies with whom you interact. Relational capital is all about giving value to someone so that you strengthen your relationship with him or her. You never know when you might need someone to help you, so when it comes time to ask, you want to be sure they are ready and willing to lend a hand.

It sounds pretty basic, but the reality is that most people either don’t know how to maintain relationships or if they do, they don’t maximize the opportunities inherent in those relationships.

For example, I just had my book launch last weekend for my first book, The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World. It was a very exciting day and it was so fantastic to have close friends, family and colleagues come out to support!

However, there were people who had confirmed their attendance ahead of time and then didn’t show up. So what does this do to their relational capital with me and my company? They are playing a dangerous game. They set up the expectation that they would be there, but didn’t follow through on a promise they made. Because the promise was not kept, I will remember this incident when they ask for my support in the future. Business leaders describe a person’s “brand” as the promises you make and the promises you keep.

In many respects, this is a communication issue. It is obviously no problem, if a person could not attend due to other commitments, but those who said they would attend, should have followed through, or if they couldn’t, then that should have been communicated.

Naturally, I invited all of my seasonal staff to celebrate with me as they have seen first hand through our programs how valuable arts and leadership education is for young people. Many of them will be applying for jobs next summer and of course, I will remember who showed up and who didn’t. You can guess who I will more likely be supportive of when they need something in the future such as a reference for a job.

As I truly believe in reinforcing good leadership skills, I took the opportunity after the book launch to send emails out to my staff who did attend the event and I told them exactly why they made the right choice. In giving them feedback I used a method I describe in my book bonuses called, How to Deliver Specific Praise that Develops Leadership Skills. If you are interested in reading this please download the free book bonuses.

It is crucial that we teach young people how to build relational capital, especially when it comes to career success. The truth is, we remember people that show up and we want to help them out when they have shown support to us.

This being a blog about the arts and leadership, you might ask, “How is relational capital relevant?” Well, quite simply, the arts are all about relationship building. Through many arts disciplines young people have the opportunity to develop empathy. This is the key to understanding relationship building because you are able to ask yourself, “How will this action affect my relationship with this person.” That question is key to building your relational capital, and in turn, to building your capacity for success.