What is ROR….?


The context for Return on Relationships is relatively simple – around us we each have a network of contacts, people we know, like and trust. Beyond this, each of our contacts has their own network, some of which are shared with us (and others) and a few of which may be unique to that person. Anyone who’s a member of LinkedIn will understand this concept through 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree contacts, i.e. Friends (1st), Friends-of-friends (2nd) and Friends-of-friends-of-friends (3rd).

So ROR in simple terms is ROI (Return on Investment) where the investment is in time and effort taken to build relationships.

By investing time in our existing network of connections, so that each of our direct connections understand what we do and how we can add value, we build our reputation in the marketplace. Furthermore, we need to invest time in growing our network further, by adding further trusted connections - the more contacts we have who can advocate us and make introductions for us, the further our reputation travels and the more chance we have of receiving even more introductions, recommendations and referrals.

Reputation is defined by Encarta as:
1.) “the views that are generally held about somebody or something”
2.) “a high opinion that people hold about somebody or something”

In the context of ROR, it is probably best described as your “Personal Brand” - it is the ability of people to understand what you are, what you do and the values you represent. It’s the ability for someone to see a relevant opportunity to refer or recommend you or for someone, who perhaps doesn’t know you, to find you by asking their network – “Who do you know who………?”

“Don’t start to dig a well when you’re already thirsty!”

ROR is a long-term concept – it may take years to achieve tangible returns for all the time you’ve spent building, grooming and managing your network. To some degree it’s a trial-and-error process, where we each have to find out what works for us and it may depend on your personality, the sector in which you work, where you live, how you socialise, the culture(s) in which you operate, access to technology, free time, etc.

Furthermore, ROR is probably more of a qualitative measure than a quantitative one. It’s easy to count up the deals you have done through referrals and to work out who they came from, but this is only part of the story. The fact that your Brand is “out there” in the marketplace, building your reputation may help the whole process of closing deals in ways you can’t quantify. Moreover, the process of interaction with others may help to evolve your product/service portfolio and value proposition, whilst probably developing you personally, as well as developing you as an asset for your organisation.

It’s important to recognise that networking isn’t just about doing business, the process of interacting with people who you like, trust and respect and sharing experiences also means that you are learning and further building your reputation. It’s also important to recognise that you will benefit greatly from the referrals you give that work, as well as the referrals you receive – introducing two people who subsequently get on well and do business together isn’t just good for them – it’s good for you too!