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Transform Your Professional Ecosystem

Republished with permission from David Nour

Transform Your Professional Ecosystem with the Relationship Value Pyramid Discover the effectiveness of the Relationship Signature Index (RSI)™ and the Relationship Value Pyramid™ to maximize your personal and professional connections.    


In today’s hyper-connected world, money is no longer the prime currency—relationships are the real capital driving success. The people we choose to invest in and surround ourselves with have an immeasurable impact on our personal and professional trajectories. But all too often, we let the depth, health, and relevance of our connections lay fallow and unexamined, thus leaving a critical strategic asset underleveraged. 

So, how do we objectively assess and intentionally nurture the fundamental strength of our relationships? That’s where the power of the Relationship Strength Index (RSI) comes in. 

The Missing Ingredients

If you think about what we’re often not getting from networks like LinkedIn, three critical attributes are missing: the depth, health, and relevance of our connections. Does the relationship go back decades, or was it formed yesterday? Will this person take my call, or will they hang up on me? Is their skillset or business relevant to my goals? 

We need a generally accepted approach to measure these vital factors more objectively, and that’s exactly what I’ve architected along with our team in Avnir. We’ve identified several unique attributes and created a proprietary algorithm to calculate a Relationship Signature Index (RSI)™ —an objective relationship assessment score at the individual, functional, and company level. It gives us unprecedented visibility into connections that would otherwise remain opaque and unquantified. 

The Relationship Value Pyramid

At the foundation of it all is the Relationship Value Pyramid™—a framework for categorizing and evaluating the depth and relevancy of each connection. I’ve read over 100 books on business relationships, and time and again, audiences agree that some bonds are far more relevant than others to what we’re each trying to accomplish professionally. 

A relationship is an investment, but we can’t possibly invest equally in every person we know. So, how do you intentionally prioritize where to focus? That’s where most people get stumped—there’s no systematic way to assess everyone in your relationship portfolio through that critical lens. Not unless you have a relationship value pyramid. 

The Four Tiers

The relationship value pyramid has four key tiers: 

Situation: At the base is the Situation tier. These are people who come and go and whose potential long-term relevance is unclear. Your access to them is sporadic at best – you may simply see them in passing from time to time. It’s collegial but transactional. This level makes up the largest portion of most people’s relationship portfolios. 

Investment: Next is the Investment tier. These are the people you’ve invested real time, effort, and resources in cultivating a bond with over time. Your access to them is more regular – think of colleagues in sales, marketing, finance, HR, legal, IT, and so on. They have more enduring relevance and value to your core work than the general masses. You make time for them and prioritize your dealings proactively. 

Portfolio: Up next is the Portfolio tier – your go-to subject matter experts and thought partners. These are relationships with people who understand an area deeper than anyone else in your circle. It’s a collaborative dynamic built on mutual insight-sharing and respect. You repeatedly turn to the industry-specialized recruiter in HR—the construction company CEO customer who understands the world like no other. “Here’s what I’m thinking; what do you think?” you ask, hoping to gather more information. 

2 AM: Finally, the pinnacle of your most prized business relationships are your 2AMs – your closest, most deeply invested relationships. There’s an unquantifiable X-factor that sets this tier apart. You have effectively immediate access to these select few, and the bond extends far beyond just business. They are confidants and personal friends who value you, support you, and push you to be the best version of yourself. You simply never want to let them down. They are indispensable assets to your growth and overall well-being. 

The four tiers of the relationship value pyramid provide a comprehensive framework for categorizing and evaluating every connection in your ecosystem. 

Nurturing Relationship Health & Relevance

With the RSI and relationship value pyramid as guides, the pragmatic question is – how do we best nurture these vital connections to ensure ongoing health, trust, and relevance? 

It comes down to three key focuses: 

1) OPF – Organize, Prioritize, Focus. We can’t equally invest in everyone we know. We’re all pulled in too many different directions – there are always more people to connect with, more meetings to take, and more time to spend. If we aren’t radically intentional about where we direct our energies, everything quickly becomes priority #1 – which, in reality, means nothing is. 

That’s why the OPF principle is so vital – Organize, Prioritize, Focus. The whole point of the Top 100 relationship management system is to help you systematically organize all of your connections, thoughtfully prioritize the most vital relationships warranting your energy, and then sharpen your sustained focus accordingly. 

When 6 pm rolls around, it’s easy to look back and wonder, “What did I get done today that moved the needle?” Often, the answer is little, precisely because you weren’t operating with that organized prioritization and laser focus. We have to be brutally selective with where we place our relational investments. 

2) The Proactive-Reactive Spectrum. So often, when we meet someone new, there are two opposing approaches we can take—the reactive or the proactive. 

The reactive end of the spectrum sounds like this: “It’s nice to know about you, and if an opportunity comes up or I have a need, I’ll reach out.” In 99% of those cases, there’s little to no substantive follow-through. After that initial conversation, it stays at “It’s good to know about you” – reactive and transactional, so nothing ever really comes from it. 

At the other end of the spectrum is a proactive mindset. If you had a genuinely good experience with someone and sense potential, you get proactive. The thought process becomes, “Here’s how I believe we can help each other. Here’s how I think we can collaborate and add mutual value over time.” 

Of course, you can’t take that proactive investment approach with every person you meet. It requires being selective and focusing on deepening relationships with just a handful of individuals at any given time. Go broad, and you’ll spread yourself too thin. But go selectively deep, and you’ll catalyze strategically vital relationship capital. 

3) WIT – Whatever It Takes. If you commit to that proactive approach of mutually adding value, you have to consistently back it up over time. That’s where the principle of WIT comes in – “Whatever It Takes.” 

WIT means demonstrating an ongoing, active interest in the other person’s holistic success that extends far beyond just your ambitions and self-interests. It’s the polar opposite of the mindset many lawyers or consultants take, overly focused on having their own best interests at heart. 

Think about your most deeply valued relationships. Chances are, you’re always looking for ways to connect them to others who could benefit them. You aim to add value however possible, with the goal of them becoming better off through being in a relationship with you. 

That level of commitment doesn’t stop at 5 pm. As a coach, I’ve been on client calls at 10 pm simply because that’s when they were available to meet. You do whatever it takes to keep that mutual value exchange vibrantly alive when it’s a relationship you’ve intentionally invested in. 

Again, you can’t take this “whatever it takes” approach with every connection. You have to be focused on who you go deep with, building out your relationship portfolio like a pyramid. Focus on fewer at any given time, but continually deepen those priority relationships as you go up the tiers. 

There’s nothing wrong with contacts who won’t go on that transformational journey with you. You simply have to be clear on who is actually in it for the long haul, and who was only ever looking for a transactional interaction. It’s like trying to date someone who fundamentally doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you – it will always be an uphill battle. 

To build real relational capital, you need people who genuinely like you, trust you, and value an ongoing bond. It’s so much easier to swim with that current than to constantly fight against it. 

The Organic Rhythms of Relationship Ecosystems. Ultimately, we have to remember that relationships are never stale, permanent states. They are living, breathing, evolving ecosystems that are constantly in flux. Just as in nature, our relational ecosystems face continual shifts and changes. 

A job change isn’t as dramatic as an entire career shift to a new industry. Moving cities means the relevance of previous local connections diminishes. Even old friends and neighbors can drift apart when lives take different paths. 

As our environments and goals change over time, so do the cycles of relevance in our relationships. They each have natural beginnings, peaks, valleys, and eventual ends that we cannot force. When our destinations in life change, so must our relational “routes” adjust to stay aligned. 

The fundamental question continues to evolve from the pursuit of success to the pursuit of significance – “Did I truly make a positive difference in anyone’s life?” 

By embracing the organic rhythms of relationships through structured analysis, we can navigate these transitions with greater awareness and intention. The relationships that endure will be the ones we’ve proactively nurtured in an authentic, sustained way over time. 

If you need help strategically managing your relationships, our AI-powered platform can assist. Harnessing decades of Relationship Economics® insights, we help professionals organize, activate, and monetize known and hidden relationships. We are developing our Gen AI platform for release in early 2024 – join our Beta Release Program if you’d like to gain early access.   

Avnir is a next-generation relationship management solution focused on helping individuals and teams identify, build, and capitalize on sustainable relationships across their unique ecosystem buckets. If you want to supercharge your relationship ecosystem with smarter technology, we invite you to join the Avnir waitlist at avnir.com.

Be among the first to experience a platform purpose-built for the science of connection.