Book Summary: The Relationship Edge

The Relationship Edge serves as a reminder that business has always been and will continue to be about connections.

We'll discover what a valuable business connection is in this overview, as well as how to cultivate one.

The benefits of implementing the ideas taught in this summary and book are enormous. Most importantly, you'll have a method for engaging with individuals you don't naturally connect with.

  • People you meet for the first time,
  • people you don't even know well, and
  • those with whom you haven't communicated in a long time.

Suppose you ever have the opportunity to meet the author, Jerry Acuff, in person. In that case, you will see that he is a true professional. And he has the evidence to back it up. This is a man from whom you should learn how to form bonds.

Let's get this discussion started.

What Is a Valuable Business Relationship

2 business partners shake hand making a valuable business deal.

In reality, building a relationship isn't enough. We're talking about important business partnerships here.

According to Acuff, the most valued connections have a lot of AIR - Access, Impact, and Results.

  • Access is pretty self-explanatory. People will pick up your phone calls, respond to your emails, and think that any time spent with you is worthwhile.
  • Impact indicates that you have the potential to positively impact the connection and vice versa.
  • Last but not least, there are the results. You don't have a terrific business connection without it; you have some rapport, maybe even a friendship. However, it was not a fruitful commercial connection.

When we have a strong business connection, individuals go out of their way to assist one another succeed. It may appear straightforward, but you'll never succeed if you don't focus on and grasp the fundamentals.

That's how a valued connection appears, but it doesn't teach us how to create one.

Mastering a conscious, systematic, and routine procedure - having the correct mentality, asking the right questions, and doing the right thing - is important for developing them.

Of course, creating a relationship does not happen overnight. It usually takes six steps, which Acuff refers to as the relationship pyramid.

The Relationship Pyramid

Starting from the bottom of the pyramid and working up to the top, below are the six stages:

  1. People who are unfamiliar with your name
  2. Those that recognize you by name
  3. People who like your company
  4. People who are pleasant to you
  5. People who admire you
  6. People who are interested in developing a relationship with you. This is the final stage in any relationship you want to take to the next level.

You'll probably identify one of those stages in whatever relationship you have. There are a few things to bear in mind before exploring how to move up the pyramid.

To begin, ascending the pyramid does not have to be done in any particular order. You can't skip any of the steps, but you can bounce between them.

Second, moving down the pyramid is much easier than getting back up.

Trust is a major issue in partnerships, and once it's lost, it's difficult to regain. So, don't forget to keep nurturing the relationships you've already built at the top of the pyramid.

Finally, this method will not work for everyone. No matter how hard you try, some individuals just won't want to be in a relationship with you. You must learn to recognize these circumstances and to move on when it is evident that you are at a stalemate.

Let's look at the resources you can use to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship.

Having the Right Mindset

A group of people hugging each other to show support. People won't go far unless we create relationships with others.

Think Well of Yourself

To develop any successful connection, you must think positively of yourself, as Acuff advises in the book. You can't have a relationship with a high-powered executive if you can't envision yourself having a relationship with one.

You won't go very far unless you believe you can create relationships with the individuals you want to do business with.

We can go on to the next thing when we've cleared that obstacle.

Think Well of Others

A remark from Zig Ziglar is frequently quoted, and it's worth repeating here:

"You can get everything you want in life if you simply help enough other people get what they want."

You must have a real desire to assist others in accomplishing so. If you don't, you'll rapidly burn out from the work of maintaining your connections.

Why? Because, as Acuff points out, relationships take time to develop, and one of the most fundamental aspects of relationship development is time. Spending time with others is an unavoidable component of the process. The longer you have, the better.

When you spend time with others, there are a few things that can help you do this better and easier:

  • having a natural interest in other people
  • concentrating on others rather than oneself
  • respecting and comprehending the viewpoints of others
  • a drive to make others feel significant

You're listening to other people because you want to hear what they have to say.

This comes easily to certain people. It can, however, be taught. We'll talk about asking the right questions in the next section. It will help you uncover information from people that will help you build a stronger connection with them.

Thus, it will make you want to spend more time with them, ultimately creating the relationship you want to develop.

Everything begins with...

Asking the Right Questions

A man with question symbol on top of his head thinking of the right questions to ask.

Discovering what individuals value is the best approach to connecting with people you are developing relationships with.

As Acuff points out, knowing what and who people value and acting on that knowledge to demonstrate your care, they are much more willing to tell you what they require professionally.

Asking people questions is the greatest approach to learning what they value. There are plenty of them.

Acuff has a list of 20 questions that you may use to start a conversation with everyone you meet:

  1. When you're not working, what do you do?
  2. What school did you attend and how did you choose it?
  3. What was your childhood like, and where did you grow up?
  4. What was it like in high school for you?
  5. When you have free time, what do you want to read?
  6. How did you decide to make a career doing [whatever it is they do for a living]?
  7. Tell me a little about yourself and your family.
  8. What is your favorite vacation spot?
  9. What type of trip do you want to take that you haven't done before?
  10. What, if any, community organizations do you have time to be a part of?
  11. What sports do you enjoy participating in, if any?
  12. What are your favorite sports to watch?
  13. What event would you attend if you could obtain tickets to any?
  14. What factors influenced your decision to relocate to this area?
  15. Tell me anything about yourself that I wouldn't expect to learn about you.
  16. What are some things you'd like to do more of but don't have time for?
  17. What obstacles or concerns do you have at work that my organization or I might assist you with?
  18. What is the most aggravating aspect of running your company these days?
  19. What two or three attributes, in your opinion, distinguish a top-notch [insert your job title here]?
  20. What would you do if all jobs paid the same and you could do it all over again?

Of course, these are only a few of the questions you may ask strangers.

Recall the acronym FORM if you wish to answer more questions or make it simpler to remember those 20. Family, occupation, recreation, and motivation are all represented by this acronym (as in what motivates them in life). Inquiring into such items will always lead to discovering the things they value.

Asking These Questions Right

Once you've figured out what questions to ask, make sure you ask them correctly.

Two things you must accomplish for the questions to yield meaningful results.

To begin, you must create a welcoming and secure environment. When you are honest and share with others, they will typically feel safer. For example, once you've asked someone where they're from and they've responded, you might tell them where you're from and why you relocated there.

Another way to make people feel more at ease is to ask their permission before asking a question. For example, you could say anything along these lines:

"Before I go into detail about my product, I'd like to ask you a different question. Do you mind if I ask what you like to read when you have free time?"

As Acuff reminds us, nearly no one will say "no" to the permission question, allowing you to continue asking personal questions and creating a personal relationship.

The second step is to ask insightful questions. A good inquiry does not imply an answer and instead invites the person to respond honestly and openly.

The ideal questions to ask when transitioning from personal to business inquiries are those that cause your prospect to think about a problem differently than they did previously.

Doing the Right Thing

A business woman receives a gift from her business partner. This shows respect and support from one to the other.

As Acuff points out, relationships aren't founded on your mindset or the knowledge you collect but on your actions. In the end, what matters is not what you say but what you do and how you do it.

Giving affordable, surprising, and thoughtful presents based on your provided information is one way to convey that you respect a connection.

Let's imagine you've been told that a specific author's work is very enjoyable. Let's imagine attending a convention where that author is giving a talk. You may put up with it and wait in line for a signed copy of the book to send them.

According to Acuff, gifts having your brand on them, such as golf balls, pencils, or coffee mugs, do not count. Dinner or a round of golf do not fall within this category. Those are expected on thoughtless presents. They don't demonstrate any extra consideration or concern for the person you're trying to become closer to.

Remembering key events like their birthday or wedding anniversary, important family names, or particular interests the individual may have are more ways to demonstrate you care about them.

Being aware of when something related to those things arises and acting on it can go a long way toward strengthening the relationship.

Access to individuals they see as significant is another factor that most people appreciate highly in a professional connection. So, if you know someone that the other person admires and respects, find a method to introduce them to them.

You may also be informed about significant events in life. A wedding, a promotion, or a bad occurrence, such as a catastrophic sickness or a company slump, stands out.

When it comes to large unpleasant circumstances, most people turn away. If you truly want to create a true friendship with these folks, being there for them in both good and difficult times can help you grow closer.

Pyramid Hopping

A woman introducing her business partner to her friend via video conference.

Relationships require time and effort to develop. However, there is a way to speed up the process, known as pyramid hopping.

This is when you actively seek out contacts by utilizing your existing ties with people on your Relationship Pyramid.

When someone presents you to the person you want to connect with, the higher you are on their pyramid, the greater the endorsement you're likely to get.

"I don't know him very well, but I've been in some meetings with him, and it looks like you two could have something in common," says Acuff, vs. "You need to see Jerry since he can help you."

It works much better if you have a strategy, just like anything else in relationships. Three phases make up the strategy's core.

  • First, figure out who has you at the top of their pyramid. You should already have a good idea of what I'm talking about. But, just to be clear, it doesn't list all 500 of your LinkedIn contacts.
  • Second, you must determine who is at the top of those individuals' pyramids. Those are the folks you'll almost certainly be introduced to. This usually entails expressly asking them who they know in the sector to which you wish to be taught.
  • Third, when you request an introduction, be as clear as possible about what you want. The more specific your request is, the more likely you'll receive the introduction you desire.


We still need to form actual relationships with people based on concepts that work as we continue to plunge further into technology and tools meant to help us connect with people.

Building and sustaining meaningful relationships has always been and will continue to be essential to your company or professional success.

So, as we close off today, consider one particular action you can do with only one of your contacts to rise to the top of the relationship pyramid. Do that, and then continue to do it every day for the rest of your life.

You'll eventually arrive at your desired destination.

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