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As I’ve spoken to hundreds, or maybe thousands, of people throughout the course of the last four years in my business, it’s become clear that there’s a range of relationship quality. Surely that comes as no surprise. But what is it? What’s the spectrum?

I’ve been pondering that very question quite a bit lately. It’s a tough one, too, because there are lots and lots of different circumstances that lead to new relationships. But infinite possibility just isn’t helpful when looking at a model, so some assumptions and simplifications need to be made. Here’s what I believe, in order of lowest to highest quality relationship:

  1. Don’t know me at all – the person doesn’t know anything about me
  2. Discovered me on their own – in an active or passive search for information, they found me and were exposed to my content (writing, podcasts, webinars, etc.)
  3. Were referred by a trusted advisor – for whatever reason, someone said “if you’re looking for that, then you gotta check out Liston”
  4. Have spoken to me – there’s nothing like a good ol’ human connection to strengthen a relationship
  5. Are a friend, family member, colleague, or client – this person has a strong connection to me, so trust is already built
  6. Has spoken to me and agrees with my world view – this is the ultimate relationship, because we share a perspective about how the world works, we know each other, and have built trust; this is where the best clients sit

It’s our job as a service provider to share our world view to establish trust and deepen the relationships with the folks we can help the most. It’s how the most important work gets done.

Notes