How to

The Chief Relationship Officer

Pierre-Loic Assayag
November 7, 2013

Most people agree that social media has changed marketing forever. Exactly how is the subject of many academic debates. We believe the most dramatic change social has provoked in marketing is in the way it has greatly amplified the impact people (not demographics, not faceless viewers, but real, living, breathing, individual people) can have on a brand, business or cause.

Today, it is often people who control the destiny of your business. Gone are the days when you can make an impact by simply paying for the ability to broadcast your message to a captivated cohort of willing eyeballs. Today, if people don’t like, comment on, engage with, or share your message, it may as well be that proverbial tree falling in the forest.

Can you hear me now?

We’re still very early in this game, but savvy marketers understand this shift. Before social media, marketers thought about “people” in terms of “collections of people” (women 25-40; teens; men with HHI > $100k). But today, “collections of people” are much less important than those individuals with the potential to have the greatest impact.

The first challenge of course is to figure out the right people who can have that impact on your business -- they are different for everyone. Then, you need to unlock the potential power of these individual people by creating strong, authentic, mutual relationships. So the practice of generating and maintaining strong relationships is quickly emerging as a universal business imperative.

So much so we are seeing organizations formalizing this practice and dedicating more resources to it. Today, the seeds for this practice lie in community management. This function is even becoming common in less digital-savvy organizations. Soon there will be Directors of Relationship Management for different constituencies (key customers, key developers, key thought leaders, key journalists, key fans, etc).

And shortly after that, we will see an even higher-level position in every major business, which will set the strategic vision for and organize the relationship management practice for the organization. The CRO. Chief Relationship Officer. And this is what the job description will look like.

Seeking: Chief Relationship Officer

*Your Company's Name* is actively seeking a talented Chief Relationship Officer to design, build and drive the growth of a robust relationship ecosystem for our business. This ecosystem will be designed to help our company forge, build and maintain essential relationships with top stakeholders such as:

  • Key customers with the potential to drive major advocacy
  • Important prospects who may hold value well beyond the revenue generated from their account
  • Influencers & media members actively discussing our industry online and offline
  • Strategic partners and other complementary companies in our space
  • Key investors & analysts
  • And others...

We are very serious about the importance of key relationships and see them as essential to helping *Your Company's Name* become one of the most important companies in the *Your Company's Market* . We view the CRO role as one of the most important functions within the company.

This position will report directly to our CMO and will work cross-functionally to ensure that each group in the company is appropriately involved in major relationship-building activities that will benefit the whole.

Our Chief Relationship Officer will be responsible for:

  • Developing a high-level strategy for establishing our relationship ecosystem
  • Identifying the key, important people from all stakeholder groups
  • Identifying the most important company assets that can be used to create value for these groups of stakeholders
  • Creating strategic plans for forging and building these specific relationships
  • Designing and executing on specific initiatives that drive these relationships

Desired Experience

We understand that it is not likely that anyone would have had any previous experience in a similar role, but some relevant experiences that will help ensure success in this role:

  • Any experience in community management (online or offline, preferably both)
  • Significant experience in an earned media role, but not be limited to media relations
  • Experience planning sizable events and/or conferences
  • Scalable content development experience
  • Experience coordinating initiatives with internal and external stakeholders
  • Proven social listening skills and ability to distill actionable insights from listening programs.

Personality, Skills & Passions

Some things that would help you be successful in this role include:

  • “Your Network is your Net Worth”: You may not have read this book by Porter Gale, but when you hear the title it should resonate in your soul. You have to believe in the power of people and place enormous value in the relationships that you have developed over the course of your life and career.
  • You like social media: You don’t view social media as an evil, silly or trivial thing. You see it as a way to build more relationships and stay connected with as many people as possible.
  • Ability to think in a scalable manner: While you believe every relationship is valuable, you know instinctively how to prioritize your activities and focus on the things (and people) that will drive maximum impact.
  • Strategic: This is a senior position in which you will be developing high-level plans and strategic initiatives. In many cases, you will not be developing relationships directly, but managing the execution of your strategic plans.
  • Natural Leadership: This is a very important asset for this position. You will often be working with cross-functional teams on things they may or may not think of as highest priority, so you must be able to inspire a group to take on what might seem like “extra work”.
  • Ability to Inspire: This is part of natural leadership, but is probably its most important trait. When you talk to people, they leave the conversation feeling more inspired than they did before it.
  • Positivity: You can not be a negative person and succeed in this role. If people have ever complained about you “being too happy”, that’s a good thing.

What do you think? Have you hired for this role before? Are you in this role today or aspire to create it for yourself? What skills and experience do you think need to be added to this list?

Please share your comments with me here. I’m looking forward to this conversation!

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