Power Relationships Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Power Relationships shows you how to have a fantastic career and a fulfilling life by connecting with the right people early and growing those relationships.

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Power Relationships Summary

“It’s not what you know but who you know.”

How many times have you heard this advice? It’s true. Each relationship molds your future. Some of your connections with others are good, some are bad, but only a few are power relationships. These happen when you find people who push you to be your best, nourish your strengths, and uplift you in hard times. 

Although these relationships aren’t common, you can follow a few steps to bring them into your life and nurture them when they come to take full advantage of their power. This is what Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas explain how to do in Power Relationships: 26 Irrefutable Laws for Building Extraordinary Relationships.

These are 3 of my favorite lessons in the book:

  1. If you want to develop power relationships, become unafraid to ask and be willing to have a lot of conversations.
  2. Include people you like and trust in your network, start connecting with them before you need them, and don’t discount people that aren’t like you.
  3. To deepen your relationships, believe in others and help them reach their goals.

Let’s dive right into these lessons and figure out how to win by being excellent to others!

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Lesson 1: Talk with people a lot and don’t be afraid to ask when you need something, even if it seems like a longshot.

Imagine you’re walking down the row to the stage to accept a prestigious award for your work. You might be thinking of the people without whom you’d never have gotten to this point. 

These are called power relationships and most successful people have 12-15 of them throughout their career. If you want to do amazing things, you’re going to need connections like these yourself. But how can you find them?

Start by having great conversations, like those that led Bill Jenkins to develop and maintain a relationship with a client that made his firm successful. 

Jenkins was used to giving Power-Point presentations until the assistant to this client told him that her boss preferred their informal chats. As he followed the woman’s advice he got to know the client better and put himself in a better position to help.

The client stayed on and a couple of years later the client is one of his firm’s biggest.

Developing power relationships also takes a willingness to ask questions.

A while back one of the authors was working on a meeting for his town and wanted to improve the profile of the event. To do this, he decided he wanted J.C. Penney to speak. 

After a failed attempt asking at the local JC Penney store, he called Mr. Penney himself, who agreed to speak and became a lifelong friend and mentor to the author!

Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to connect with people dissimilar you and start to build your network of people you like as soon as possible.

Which do you think is better, having a lot of acquaintances, or having a few close friends? While being popular sounds nice, when it comes to success, it’s best to nurture relationships with a small group of people.

Consider these individuals like your 15 “apostles,” which all support each other’s projects to help one another succeed. When considering who to include, think of people who are good advisors, mentors, or collaborators. 

It’s crucial that you begin forming these relationships immediately. Start with those who are in a similar place to you. It’s not likely that someone who has already seen success will bring a new person into their close circle.

Make sure you also avoid trying to connect with people just because of their position. Focus on reaching out to people that you like, with similar interests and values.

Petri Hawkins-Byrd ended up becoming the bailiff for the popular show Judge Judy because of a power relationship. During his time as a bailiff in Brooklyn, he’d spent years developing a connection with Judy Sheindlin before her show even existed.

While it’s good to build relationships with people you like, don’t discount people that are different from you. Their strengths can compensate for what you lack and their unique outlook is vital to your success too.

Think of the charismatic salesman Steve Jobs and the technically brilliant Steve Wozniak. Without the coming together of their different personalities, Apple wouldn’t exist.

Lesson 3: Help other people reach their goals and believe in them to deepen your connections.

If you’re like me, the word networking makes you a little sick. And for good reason. Most people use it when thinking only about how they can benefit from others. 

To form power relationships you need to spend time looking solely at how you can help others, without considering how they can help you. Do this by believing in people and expressing your unshakable faith in them.  

Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith’s experience when his teacher, Miss Breckenridge, believed in him from a young age shows how this works. 

Miss Breckenridge constantly expressed her unwavering belief in Red’s writing skills. She’d frequently encourage him to keep working hard at it, even after he wasn’t in her class anymore. Years later when Red was accepting the Pulitzer, Miss Breckenridge wrote him a note telling him “I told you so.”

Sometimes others are already working hard at reaching their potential in the form of their goals. When this is the case, do everything you can to help them reach those ambitions.

It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant though. Acts as simple as checking in with someone or holding a door open can go a long way to nurture a power relationship.

And remember, your good acts toward others will always come around to benefit your life, even if you aren’t thinking about how they might at the time.

Power Relationships Review

I loved Power Relationships and I’m certain you will too. I think the best part for me was hearing all the inspiring stories of people being excellent to each other. Those and the tips the book gives motivated me to be better to everyone, not just those that I’m connected with for work.

Who would I recommend the Power Relationships summary to?

The 57-year-old CEO that wants to do better at taking care of individuals, the 23-year-old who is starting their career and is looking forward to making some great connections along the way, and anyone that wants to see how being awesome to other people will grow their network and opportunities.

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.