The phrase seems to be first used in the superb Business is a Contact Sport: Using the 12 Principles of Relationship Asset Management to Build Buy-in, Blast Away Barriers, and Boost Your Business by Augusto Vidaurreta, Tom Richardson, and Tom Gorman
Amazon selects the following excerpt to summarize the book:
“Business is a contact sport because human contact, connection, and cooperation is the essence of business. Even in our transaction-driven, increasingly virtual world, solid, long-lasting relationships are still fundamental to success https://assetmanagementwealthadvisory.com. Yet in most companies, relationships with customers and employees and even more so with suppliers, distributors, licensees, shareholders, lenders, strategic partners, board members, universities, charities, the media and the community are the most underutilized assets.”
Of course we agree with the concept EXCEPT we believe, because of our transaction driven world managing our relationship assets is becoming even more important. Soon the only way we might find out about opportunities will be through relationships.
Relationships have been the basis of the recent Internet phenomena such as My Space, Facebook. Beebo, Craigs List etc. These sites gave kids places on-line to hang out with their friends, and friends of friends – sort of micro communities.
More recently we have seen an explosion in the number of new sites offering to do a similar thing for business people – Linked In, Xing, Naymz. These places are less fun, but more useful, giving members ways to find and connect with others they don’t know. The perfect vehicle for finding others with common interest are Groups and Questions/Answers forums.
These are places where we can help others, and ask for guidance ourselves. Interaction here often results in a connection, expanding our sphere of influence.
And even more recently we have seen microblogging take a different approach to the same opportunity. Twitter allows us to “follow” the posts of interesting people. They get brought to us. In turn people who are interested in what we have to say can “follow” us. Re-tweeting lets us send interesting posts to all our followers. This way interesting news goes around the world in seconds.
All of these sites add value by connecting networks to other networks through personal relationships – phenomenally powerful but at the same time limited. Every profile is a unique entity, and we quickly get too many of them.
It’s not unusual for even a lazy networker to have 200+ connections on Linked In, 100+ friends on Facebook, 500+ followers on Twitter and maybe another 200+ contacts on various forums. Active bloggers will many more, and a lot they don’t even know about. Posts get sent around the Internet and indexed by Search Engines and found by anybody looking.
With social networking the law of diminishing returns starts to apply at a frighteningly low number of contacts.
Feeding these “machines” with contributions is itself a time draining task. Keeping clear in our brain who does what and how that advantages us is impossible. Understanding, planning and managing how we exploit the opportunities arising from our connections soon runs into problems with our pay grade. We can’t do it.
We need some software 🙂 but please don’t suggest CRM.
We need more than customers – suppliers, partners, advisers, experts, friends, relations. We need to know about our relationships with them and their networks. We need to be able to plan, and execute how we use all of these connections and keep records of what we did.
We need R.A.M – flexible enough to accommodate all relationships and plans, easy to use so we don’t have to waste networking time on it, and hosted on the Internet so it stays out of our way.