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VENTURE: Does Your Career Have Relationship Currency?

By David Mour
Author, “Relationship Economics” 

What’s the value of your career? Is it growing or shrinking? First, a few caveats:

1. Different professions and functional areas require different calculations. An account executive can’t use the same formula as a lab scientist or entrepreneur.

2. It is much more important to get a sense of directional trends rather than an exact number. That is, did your professional net worth increase, enhance or otherwise improve or did it get diluted, devalued, or otherwise decrease over the past 12 months?

Let’s start with a truth that most people ignore: your salary is not your professional net worth. If Jim gets paid $100,000 this year, his career is not worth $100,000. Compensation generally lags changes in your behavior and performance. This works in two ways.

First, if you start to significantly improve your performance, it generally takes a while before management notices and rewards your improvements; sometimes, you have to change jobs to reap the rewards of such improvements.

Second, unfortunately, in many organizations, you can coast for a while before people notice that you are doing so.

The centerpiece of this approach is that you start to track two groups of people:

* 2 A.M. relationships are the people you could call at 2 a.m. and have them answer, “How can I help?” They are your strongest, most impactful business relationships that have become personal friends.

* Portfolio relationships are true experts in your network; they are go-to people with whom you share deep mutual respect.They are your think tank, sounding board and may include current or potential clients.

In both cases, you want to understand whether – over the past year – you have added more people to this group, strengthened your relationships, or allowed them to weaken (perhaps by neglect or misstep).

Keep track of whether you helped — or let down — people in these two key groups. For example ….

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