Relationship Capital

You’ve heard of financial capital, but do you know about relationship capital?

Relationship capital is one of the most valuable assets an organization has. It is the international currency of sustainable business growth, especially in business networking. The network of people and organizations that represents customers, partners, suppliers, employees, etc. constitutes an organization’s relationship capital. Just like financial capital, relationship capital is accumulated by individuals and used in the production of wealth. It worked for me and I know it has worked for you at times too.

An Organization’s Relationship Capital =  ALL THE RELATIONSHIPS + ALL THE PEOPLE 


Relationship capital is accumulated by providing help, advice, information, referrals, and other benefits to the people you are in relationship with, while not thinking at all about what you’ll get back in return.

For most of human history, building relationship capital came naturally, especially in smaller communities. But as small communities grew into cities, the sense of community and the close, personal relationships that went with it, disappeared. A vacuum was created by the disappearance of community-based networking. I’ve committed my life to teaching business people how to once again develop the strong relationships needed to create sustainable business growth.

The focus of networking should be 90% giving. Connect with others and brand yourself through generosity. Instead of thinking only about what you can gain…or get…from a relationship, think about how you can give. Relationships develop rapidly when you are a giver, and people will remember you. What do you have that is worth giving? Demonstrate that you can be a resource to others with your professional expertise, external business connections, internal business connections, and community and family connections. Give versus Get.  Pretty unique way of thinking about business growth isn’t it?

Understanding your connections’ needs is equally important.  Spending time with someone that you will eventually have a long term relationship with requires a keen ear and acute listening skills.  Once we understand someone's desires and personal makeup we can truly help them through possible network and personal connections. 

Create systems—through technology and tracking—to help with follow up and follow through to ensure you never forget a name or lose track of a relationship again. If you say you are going to do something, DO IT! If in conversation you say you have a solution, or a recommendation, or something tangible or intangible that would be helpful to that person, be sure you follow through. Trust is the foundation of your reputation and why people recommend you to others. Relationship capital is a catalyst for building trust with people who don't already know you and while providing opportunities based on your reputation.

All these interactions involve the sharing of knowledge, the solving of problems and the creation of connections. Networking IS NOT about the number of connections you've amassed. Networking IS about the quality of your connections and your reputation with those connections.


Andy Bluestone is a networker and relationship development strategist. He is an author of numerous articles and a new book, “Harnessing the Power of Relationships." As president and CEO of Selective Benefits Group, he has recruited more than 2,300 sales reps and is engaged in helping closely held companies reduce costs in their 401(k) plans and create an added value to the participants' experience in their plans.     

Selective Benefits Group, 17 Wilrich Glen Morristown, NJ 07960  973-417-6880    

NOTE: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice.