Learn how to master this key element of career success.

Two men shake hands.When you’re enrolled in an online MBA program, your curriculum can put iconic business leaders’ best practices at your fingertips. Walden’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) curriculum, for example, incorporates valuable insights from the renowned Keith Ferrazzi. Known for his thought leadership and passion for helping others achieve business success, Ferrazzi believes that the number-one success factor is how you handle relationships. The key, according to Ferrazzi, is to conduct every relationship with generosity, putting other people first. What does this entail? According to Ferrazzi, you must develop “relationship currency,” which has three distinct layers:*

  • Universal currency: Be the kind of person others want to be around.

  • Professional currency: Genuinely serve others rather than pushing your product. By doing so, you’ll help your product sell itself.

  • Personal currency: Understand what is important to the other person, and serve them in a way that makes it possible for them to be more successful.

Similarly, to be a great leader, you must invest in the relationships on your team. Build your team into a tribe or family, making it apparent that you genuinely care about their success. When employees feel as though they work for someone who is invested in their success, they are more innovative, take greater risks, and have a higher level of interest in the work they do.

Not sure how to invest in and nurture business relationships? Consider one of Ferrazzi’s best practices: Relationship Action Planning (RAP). It involves proactively working to serve and advance the relationships that are important to achieving your business plan. When you reach out to others in order to be of service, your generosity will quickly bring strength to the relationship. Here are a few steps to consider in your RAP.

  • Step 1: Consider who is most critical to your team’s success and focus on those individuals. Assign team members to help build stronger relationships.
  • Step 2: Prioritize the importance of each relationship and determine your effort level accordingly.
  • Step 3: Clearly define how you can help or serve each person, both professionally and personally.
  • Step 4: Tap into your inner circle of close business connections, if their expertise or personalities align with your team’s agenda.
  • Step 5: Conduct outreach in a way that’s rich, robust, and generous—including meetings, events, and even texting and social media.
  • Step 6: Measure the strength of individual relationships on a regular basis, and renew or realign your list as needed.

In the end, it’s all about building relationships by dedicating your time and energy, in addition to your business acumen and subject matter expertise. What’s true in life is also true in business: when we give, we often end up receiving even more in return.

If you wish to strengthen your business skills with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, explore Walden’s online business and management degree programs, including our MBA, and other master’s degree programs such as our MS in Marketing and MS in Management.

Keith Ferrazzi is the founder and chair of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a research-based consulting and training company. He is also a noted speaker and the author of two best-selling business books, Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back? Ferrazzi began his career as the youngest chief marketing officer at Deloitte Consulting, a Fortune 500 company. His insights have been incorporated into online education content at leading institutions, including Walden University.


*Knowledge at Wharton, Why Relationships Are Crucial to Success: An Interview with Keith Ferrazzi and Adam Grant.

†Keith Ferrazzi, Relationship Action Planning.

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