relationships and infinite games

In building a business, relationships, sales by Jay Clouse

I really can’t overstate the value of relationships. Relationships really make the world go ’round, and they are also (in my opinion) the most fulfilling part of life.

I’m blown away by the volume of Linkedin messages and emails I get on a daily basis that jump from zero (I don’t even know this person) to 100 (want to hire me to do X?).

Whether you are actually selling a product or service, or just “selling” yourself as someone to know, be friends with, hire, promote…it starts with building a good relationship.

And the best relationships aren’t built from, “I’m going to get to know this person so that at [time] or [event] I will get this outcome.” That’s a relationship based on a transaction.

When you start a relationship based on a transaction, and that transaction doesn’t happen on the timeframe you expect, both parties are left with a hollow, bad experience.

And it’s a very finite mindset. “If it doesn’t happen at this specific time, it never will.”

A better strategy is to play an infinite game. You may hope for a specific outcome at a specific time, but if that doesn’t happen, you leave the door open for the future.

When I tell someone that applications are open for Unreal Collective’s accelerator program, I’d love for them to join the upcoming cohort. But if they aren’t ready to commit, I leave that door open.

A client discovery conversation isn’t just selling for now — it’s selling for some time in the future. So I’m most focused on building a good relationship now than getting to a sale.

Not to mention, some of my strongest advocates are people I’ve never sold anything to — they are just people I’ve built strong relationships with and believe in me.

When you focus on relationships, good outcomes are a byproduct. When you focus on outcomes, you will often sacrifice the opportunity for good relationships.


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