People always ask me “but how?” The quick and dirty answer is, “Ask them!” But to provide some structure and help get you thinking proactively, I’ve broken relationship currency – that is, forms of generosity that you can use in building business relationships – into three categories, what I call the Generosity Pyramid.
1. Universal currency: This refers to our innate human ability to connect to others. We can all embrace intimacy with another human being by listening, empathizing and caring. We can all become the colleague who blocks off that extra time to fetch a cup of coffee or who connects more deeply with a client, customer, employee or peer. Sensitivity, charm, the ability to crack a good joke — we’ve all got universal currency to develop and share. Universal currency also includes encouragement.
2. Professional Currency: First, this is knowledge of your product and your ability to connect your product and benefits to issues the client deals with. But it is important to understand that any product or service you offer is only one piece of the broader, full-service solution for your target’s business. So the other aspect of professional currency is providing useful assistance to help a person’s career.
3. Personal Currency: This is the pinnacle of the pyramid - the most powerful form of currency. To discover your personal currency, don’t look inside — that’s too hard for many people. Instead, look outward. Personal currency requires discovering what others need to be happy, then figuring out what you can do to get them there. It could be your professional expertise, your problem-solving ability, your network of relationships, your black belt in judo or simply your unfaltering optimism. The secret to optimizing personal currency is to establish a close enough relationship with others so that they’re willing to share their deepest-felt dreams and aspirations with you, along with the issues that are holding them back.
“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote
that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck
is going to be, not where it has been.’
And we’ve always tried to do that at
Apple. Since the very very beginning.
And we always will.”—Steve Jobs, Apple Computers (via ishdog)