We're sorry but Culturate.ai doesn't work properly without JavaScript enabled. Please enable it to continue.
Level 20, 135 King St, Sydney NSW 2000Privacy Policy

The lost skill of building authentic professional relationships

Published date17 June 2024
Reading time4 min read
  • People Analytics
  • Advocacy
  • Skills

Building authentic professional relationships

The ability to forge authentic relationships stands as a crucial yet often overlooked cornerstone of organisational success. As leaders, our focus tends to gravitate towards tangible metrics and immediate outcomes, overshadowing the profound impact of genuine connections. However, a growing concern among CEOs, Boards, heads of businesses, and CHROs is the gap in our knowledge and practice of building these authentic relationships. This disconnect not only hampers innovation but limits our potential to foster a culture of trust and collaboration within and beyond our organisations.

The Present Challenge: Bridging the Authenticity Gap

At the heart of modern business challenges is an authenticity gap - a noticeable divide between the superficiality of professional networking and the depth of genuine relationship-building. In an era dominated by digital interactions and fleeting engagements, organisations are increasingly finding themselves at a loss on how to cultivate meaningful relationships beyond transactional boundaries. This gap not only affects internal dynamics but also stymies the potential for sustainable external partnerships and collaborations.

A Tripartite Framework: Contacts, Connections, and Advocates

To navigate this complexity, it’s imperative to consider a tripartite framework centred around Contacts, Connections, and Advocates. This framework serves as a roadmap for cultivating relationships that are not only strategic but also deeply rooted in mutual respect and understanding.

- Contacts are the foundation of our professional networks, contacts are the broad set of individuals we know. The challenge lies not in accumulating contacts but in elevating these relationships to more meaningful interactions.

- Connections are a subset of our contacts, connections are those with whom we share a mutual interest or purpose. These relationships are characterised by a reciprocal exchange of value. The evolution from contacts to connections signifies a move towards more engaged and purposeful interactions.

- Advocates are the pinnacle of relationship-building, advocates are connections that have transformed into champions of our cause. These individuals not only believe in our vision but are also willing to advocate on our behalf. Cultivating advocates requires a genuine investment in the relationship, built on trust and mutual respect.

The Impact of Effective Advocacy

Transitioning through these stages - from contacts to connections and, ultimately, to advocates - can revolutionise how organisations approach relationship-building. Advocacy, at its core, is about nurturing a network of individuals who are not just aware of your organisation's mission but are committed to supporting and advancing it.

The benefits of such a transition are manifold. Firstly, it leads to a higher rate of referrals, where trust and genuine advocacy encourage stakeholders to recommend your organisation, thereby expanding your reach and influence organically. Secondly, it enables organisations to spend less time on surface-level engagements and instead focus on nurturing high-trust relationships that yield greater long-term value.

Envisioning ‘Great Kwan’ Connectedness

Drawing inspiration from the concept of 'Great Kwan’ - a term synonymous with deep-seated connectedness and mutual support - we can envision a future where organisations thrive on the strength of their relationships. This vision is characterised by an ecosystem where referrals are abundant, trust is the currency, and time is spent wisely on fostering connections that matter.

Achieving this level of connectedness necessitates a shift in perspective, from viewing relationships as mere transactions to recognising them as the bedrock of sustainable growth and success. It requires leaders to champion the cause of authenticity, steering their organisations towards a culture where advocacy is not just encouraged but celebrated.

Jon Burgess

Jon Burgess

“ADVOCACY: An authentic and purposeful way to live your life and do business. Consciously understanding who is important, why they are important, what is important to them and how you can remain relevant and top of mind with each other. This is the key to building sustainable, high-value authentic relationships.”


The journey towards building authentic relationships is both challenging and rewarding. It calls for a deliberate shift in how we view our professional networks, urging us to foster connections that transcend the immediate transaction.

As we stand on the brink of this transformation, it’s essential for leaders across the spectrum - CEOs, Boards, heads of businesses, and CHROs - to champion this paradigm shift. Initiating a journey towards authentic relationship-building can unlock the full potential of organisations and set new benchmarks for success in the modern business era.