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Why wealthy people are laser-focused on 'Power Relationships' – Business Insider

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  • In my Rich Habits research, I interviewed 233 wealthy people over five years (177 of whom were self-made millionaires) with at least $160,000 in annual gross income and $3.2 million in net assets.
  • One theme that kept arising was relationships. I found wealthy people focus like a laser on building what I like to call Power Relationships. These people are optimistic, success-minded, and influential. 
  • Power Relationships don’t simply manifest themselves out of thin air. They are the byproduct of investing time and energy: calling people on their birthdays, inviting them to coffee, engaging in speaking and writing to reach more people.
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In my Rich Habits research, I interviewed 233 wealthy people over five years (177 of whom were self-made millionaires) with at least $160,000 in annual gross income and $3.2 million in net assets. I then wrote a series of Rich Habits books sharing the data I had gathered.

I learned a lot about the habits and choices of the wealthy, from how they got rich in the first place to the choices that stand in the way of building wealth.

One theme that kept arising was relationships. I’ve written before that the rich do not build relationships with just anybody, but I’ve also come to find that they focus like a laser on building what I like to call Power Relationships.

Power Relationships are individuals who are:

  • Centers of influence
  • Decision-makers
  • Upbeat, optimistic, positive
  • Wealthy
  • Successful  
  • Success-minded
  • Obsessed with self-improvement

In my study, I also spoke with people on the other end of the income spectrum: those who had less than $35,000 in annual gross income and less than $5,000 in liquid assets. When asking about Power Relationships, I noticed some big differences between how people in the the two different groups approached them:

  • 88% of the wealthy believed building Power Relationships was a key factor in their wealth. Only 17% of the low-income people made any effort to build Power Relationships.
  • 67% of the rich believed promoting themselves to those who matter, other Power Relationships, was important to building their brand, which led to success. Only 24% of the low-income people agree.
  • 75% of the rich send thank you cards or notes or email their Power Relationships regularly. Only 13% of the low-income people have this Rich Habit.
  • 72% of the wealthy volunteer five hours or more each month, compared to only 12% for the low-income people. Many of the board members of non-profits happen to be centers of influence, decision-makers, and successful or success-minded individuals — in other words, Power Relationships.

Building Power Relationships is fundamental to success and wealth creation. But building these relationships requires that you follow a process.

How to build Power Relationships

Power Relationships don’t simply manifest themselves out of thin air. They are the byproduct of investing time and energy in growing and nurturing them. So, you have to process building these relationships on a daily basis. In other words, you need to make building Power Relationships a Rich Habit.

Not everyone you meet is worthy of your investment. You need to be selective. The wealthiest invest in upbeat, optimistic, enthusiastic individuals who are on or pursuing a path towards success.

So how do you go about finding and building Power Relationships?

Become a speaker in your area of expertise

Speaking engagements are probably the most efficient and effective way to build Power Relationships. One speaking engagement can introduce you to numerous Power Relationships at one time. Since many people fear public speaking, overcoming that fear sets you apart from the masses. You’ll be viewed as an expert in the eyes of any Power Relationships listening to your talk.

Join a non-profit group board or committee

You will find many Power Relationships sitting on the boards of local, community-based non-profit groups. Very often, board members are successful, wealthy individuals who have very strong, powerful relationships.

By becoming a member of a non-profit, you gain special access to these Power Relationships. You also are able to showcase your knowledge and skill. Referrals will eventually manifest themselves as your relationships grow stronger. When you join a non-profit, in time you will gain access to the Rolodex of the Power Relationships who reside on the board.

Write about your areas of expertise

Writing sets you apart from your competition. As you develop your content, your content will eventually reach the eyeballs of Power Relationships, because Power Relationships are voracious readers. Your content, if it is good, will create immediate gravitas with these Power Relationships.

Also, every time you write about a subject, you increase your knowledge in that subject and this helps open your eyes to invisible opportunities that were there all along. Writing creates a type of good luck known as Opportunity Luck.

Get in the habit of calling your Power Relationships on their birthdays, to touch base during major life events, or just to say hello

Call your Power Relationships on their birthdays. Birthdays are very important to each one of us; second only to our names in terms of importance. When you take time out of your day to make a happy birthday call it says to that person, “you are important to me.” Power Relationships remember those who call them on their birthday. When you make a happy birthday call, you may be the only person who actually does so that day, which sets you apart from everyone else.

Like happy birthday calls, any life event calls stir strong emotions for the recipient of that call. So, call your Power Relationships when something important, special, or significant happens to them or one of their family members. This could be a birth, death, newspaper mention, award, or health issue.

You might even want to make a habit of calling at least one Power Relationship every day for no other reason other then to say hello. This helps build the relationship and opens the door for opportunities.

Treat your Power Relationships to coffee or a meal every once in a while

Periodically reach out to your Power Relationships and ask them to breakfast, lunch, or dinner or buy them a few drinks at a bar. This casual get-together is the perfect setting to casually grow these relationships in a relaxed environment.

No one succeeds on their own. Success does not happen in a vacuum. The most successful people in the world are part of an expansive and strong network or team of other successful people.

Power Relationships are like gold. They are the currency of the wealthy.

Thomas C. Corley, CPA, CFP, is the author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals,” and “Rich Kids: How To Raise Our Kids To Be Happy And Successful In Life.” Follow him on Twitter @RICHHABITS.