Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Managing a Full Bucket of Business Relationships

My close network of business relationships includes a professionals from commercial banks, executive search, law, accounting, venture capital and private equity. Having a solid referral network is a good thing but I can only manage a limited circle. Now, too often I hear from new professionals wishing to get inside my circle of close relationships -- but my bandwidth is not there or it might conflict with taking care of an existing relationship.

At some point a few years ago I arrived at "too many". With so many close to me it became impossible to have a viable, reciprocating relationship with every professional wanting to be inside my network. Yet I cannot just check out or close my door. That is bad form. So I have arrived at a baseline for dealing with a full relationship bucket.
  • I continually evaluate the value of my close circle. Even though I never keep score I can sense when someone is simply "taking", not giving -- out they go to make room.
  • I am completely open with new professionals that I will not be able to be a referral resource at this time. However, if they bring meat to the table I will reciprocate. That's fair right?
  • I make the effort to refer them to someone still building their referral circle.