Manage business relationships to create value for both sides

recently crossed over 2,000 “connections” on Linkedin.  As a speaker on raising capital, I pick up lots of business cards.  Most of these cards find their way into Google contacts.  I now have 3,200 people and businesses listed. I am rich! Or, am I?

I agree with many others that relationships are an entrepreneur’s greatest asset.  It’s not what you know, but who you know!

A relationship is “the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other,” according to Merriam Webster.

Other than a minimal digital pairing on Linkedin or a data file in Google Contacts, I do not really have a relationship with most of the people.  In that respect, my Linkedin and Google Contacts are no better than a phone book.

I see a relationship as an exchange of benefits.  If I give up something of value, but get nothing back, there is no relationship.  If I get something of value, but give nothing, there is no relationship.

Relationships, like any asset, need management.  Not all relationships have the same value.  Certain relationships will require a greater investment to acquire and maintain.  Of these relationships, some relationships will provide greater benefit.

Everyone should first consider himself or herself  as a new product — a bundle of features that can generate certain outcomes that will benefit different people.

As a consultant, I can view myself like a product.  I have certain capabilities and knowledge that I can sell

I decided that I needed to manage my relationships — enhance existing relationships, validate uncertain relationships and create new relationships —  in 2017 to validate my relationships.

I identified a charity, Plant With Purpose, that is doing cool work in helping communities in developing countries.  It reflects my values.  I then planned a crowdfunding campaign, and I am now asking everyone in my network to support it with a contribution of $25.  If each person gives up $25 to the charity at my request, then a validation of our relationship has been achieved.

I write and post articles, like this one, in Linkedin on a regular basis.  This is a form of giving value.  Is it enough?  I know every one of my Linkedin connections does not read all of my articles.  Therefore, am I giving value?  Enough value?

I get nothing from nearly all of my connections.  I questioned whether I should simply remove all of those connections or take some other action to validate the relationship.  I began studying “Relationships are Everything!,” written by Mark Maraia. I decided that I wanted quality, not quantity.  I wanted shared values.

Karl Dakin is president of Dakin Capital Services LLC. He can be reached at


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