BRM Starts with YOU

Posted | Category: BRM Philosophy | Contributed

You want to build a global community of BRMs?

You have to work from the inside out.

And no, not from the inside of the BRM community out, but from the inside of who you are as a BRM to the authority you show outwardly to the world.

Too often, BRMs expend a lot of energy and time on proving their worth instead of embodying their value. BRMs always have to prove they add value to everyone in their organization. The downside of that is that the focal point of the BRM becomes proving their worth instead of exhibiting their value throughout the entire organization.


Look, nobody is going to argue the point that, as BRMs, we can’t control other people’s actions or thoughts. We can’t. Can we influence? You betcha. Can we communicate? We are pretty good at that. But, controlling the actions and thoughts of a CxO or a team of C-suite executives? We just can’t do it. However, what we can control is our actions and reactions to what people say and how they act.

Let us unpack some answers that may help you go from having to prove your worth to embodying your value! We’ll dive into the center of learning and building relationships, and how to level up your BRM mindset.

First, let’s talk about why some BRMs thrive as strategic partners while others seem to be stuck in ad-hoc to service provider. Well, the reasons we thrive and stagnate as BRMs are as diverse and complicated as opening Pandora’s box. Reasons can range from organizational culture to self-confidence, and all of the reasons in between.

For example, buy-in and investment from leadership for a BRM role is huge. When the CIO is all in, it makes it a lot easier to accomplish things within the organization. If the CIO is questioning value and saying, “Okay, let’s see what happens,” that CIO isn’t invested. Being business partners is more than “waiting to see what happens.” Building relationships is a huge part of your partnership, and to not have personal investment from leadership is a sizable hurdle to jump.

But it’s not all on leadership. BRMs have a unique opportunity to make space for themselves in a leadership position. You have the ear of business partners and have the inside scoop on how to create influential relationships and produce value in your organization. Don’t forget you have the advantage of the largest single, global BRM community at your fingertips. There is a magnitude of tools, tips, examples and, yes, actual BRMs waiting on you to discover them.

Stop telling them how good you are; show them!

Nevertheless, one oversight BRMs tend to make is not documenting their value from the start. Business relationship managers should be documenting and broadcasting the value they create with their partners. Instead of waiting for results, document value and provide that information to your partners from the get go. It reveals that your intentions and actions are making a difference in the organization.

Take documenting/recording a step further, and get permission to publish it in a newsletter or the landing page of your organization’s website. Share what you are doing with everyone. Make sure your CIO/C-suite execs are on the same page as you. If they are saying, “Let’s try it and see what happens,” then they are not invested and they aren’t on the same page. When you show your business partner value, it isn’t proving your worth, it is “being” your value.

Fill the room

We all experience people who walk into a room, every head turns, and we feel their influence—they exude confidence and leadership qualities without trying. You can see they know their value.

They claim space by being present. They embody the BRM mindset: fearless, relationship-centered, playful, self-actualized, and purposeful.

As a BRM, you have the same ability. It doesn’t mean you walk into a room acting like you’re the smartest person around. There is a humbleness that fills the vacancies beyond your self-confidence. Merely by knowing your value and building partnerships, you have the potential to fill the room with your influence. This is what “being” your value is, compared to “proving” your worth. Embrace the BRM mindset; be fearless, relationship-centered, playful, self-actualized, and purposeful.

Be action driven

Therefore, action makes perfect. Being proficient in the theory and principles of business relationship management is invaluable, but proficiency in theory and principles can create stagnancy if you don’t invest in the actions and values of business relationship management as a role, capability, and discipline.

In other words, in order to be BRM, you must do BRM. Be mindful and recognize when you find yourself caught up in the technique and concepts of business relationship management. One thing is for sure, action is a necessity as a thriving BRM.

It’s important as an active BRM that you build meaningful relationships. Relationships are subjective, and not a process—it’s about key relationships with the right people. Relationships are about having the best FTEs in place, with the personalities that create a great BRM presence. Who better than a BRM to lead discussions with your partners. Get feedback from people, and create opportunities that put you and your BRM talent in the mix.

Again, you may be the smartest person in the room, but your maturity fills the space when you don’t act like the smartest person in the room. In other words, self-confidence doused with a pinch of humility creates opportunity to attract the right people. Having the right relationships with the right people will support your ability to rise from a service-provider mindset to a strategic-partner mindset. But in order to evolve, BRMs must mature and rise up from theory and move into action.

Drowning in theory & standards

It’s easy to get caught up in the theory and standards of BRMing. People spend years perfecting their understanding of what it’s like to BRM. It takes an intentional shift in your mindset to put into action all the theory and standards swirling around in your head.


As Kimball Lovin said so perfectly, “When you’re a new BRM or you’re in a new organization, spend the first six months learning everything you can about your partners, their assignments, and goals. What are your partners’ objectives and challenges? Take time to understand their personalities. And sometimes that means you might have to armor up.”


The three things Lovin says are invaluable for a newer BRM are:

  1. Review everything your partner wants to see: incidents, strategy, risks, etc. Communicate and document everything.

  2. Present the SWOT. Show strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and threats/risk. Have those in your plan and share it with your partners. Communicate and document everything.

  3. Lead monthly strategy meetings. Have discussions with your partners and talk about strategy, goals, projects, value, and the importance. Show trends, start conversations, and develop a relationship that is invaluable to your partners.

    1. Then, frequently check if you’re aligned and converged in those strategies. This gives everyone the opportunity to see you’re providing value.

    2. Make sure you facilitate the meetings. It helps you learn and grow as a BRM and puts you in the mix.

    3. And of course, communicate and document everything.


What happens if you’re just plain stuck? Your relationships are stagnant and you’ve tried everything but you just can’t seem to mature beyond an ad-hoc or order taker. It happens more times than not, as people get stuck in the rut of day-in-and-day-out expectancies placed upon them by people who don’t understand what BRMs do. We become expendable when profits become losses.

What’s important is that BRMs are seen as leadership positions. It’s even more important that BRMs position themselves in their organization as being an indispensable role. Sometimes BRMs struggle with how to get there. Maybe your industry or function hasn’t seen the light, or maybe they’re blinded by their own obliviousness to what BRMs do. Either way, you may have come to a point of despair or futility. Your growth has slowed, your ability to engage with your new CxO is discouraging. This isn’t a moment to throw up your hands and give up or skate by hoping you make it through the first round of layoffs.

If you need help, it’s important to reach out and get help. The BRM community has people ready and willing to mentor you! There isn’t a situation or a struggle that someone in the BRM community hasn’t experienced. Most BRMs go through huge changes in organizations. Your experience isn’t unique. Reaching out to the BRM community for help is critical, whether you are stuck or just feel you need some extra support.

Mentoring is giving back to the community that gave so much to you. It’s important to embrace your strengths, but just as important to recognize and reach out for help with weaknesses, struggles, problems, and organizational upheaval. Other BRMs have the same stories you have swirling in your head. Just because they appear to be great at their role doesn’t mean they were always that way. Reach out, get a mentor, and learn how to navigate business relationship management. Then, when you’re at a point where the storms seem to subside, you can mentor someone else going through what you went through.

The Bottom Line

You are the only one who can balance the depth of learning and profundity of your actions as a BRM. If you need to master theory and principles, study up for and take the BRMP® certification. Grow your knowledge, and build insight into the role, capability, and discipline. If you are wading in the lull between theory and action and you want to put real results behind the knowledge you gained, register to take the CBRM® certification. It is the course that takes all the knowledge you obtained and puts it into practice.


It’s time to move beyond where you are to where you want to be. BRM Institute offers you knowledge, support, mentoring, courses, classes, webinars, and conferences that support the largest single, global BRM community. Reach out and join today. Make the leap from constantly proving your worth to being the value you know you are!

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