The Art of Business Relationships: Connecting with Decision Makers to Drive Results


Through a combination of scientific approaches and practical, time-tested techniques, gain the knowledge needed to ask better questions, identify hidden business opportunities, and improve your ability to truly understand others’ goals, needs, and fears.
Upcoming Start Date: TBA
Location: UT Austin

This certificate program consists of three required courses (listed below) and one elective course option.

This certificate is comprised of four single-day courses.

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Asking the right questions, building strategic relationships outside of your organization, and transforming your approaches to yield better results is an art.  The world of work is rapidly changing. From new forms of digital communication to remote work, it has never been more important to develop authentic business relationships. But that is complex! How do we capture attention long enough to even get started? Whether it is engaging new or potential clients, creating bonds with external stakeholders, or managing others, there really is an art to building and strengthening relationships with real decision-makers to drive material results. How can we use our personal communication styles to build stronger relationships? This course provides you with a balance of scientific approaches and practical, time-tested ways to ask better questions, identify hidden business opportunities, and improve your ability to truly understand others’ goals, needs, and fears. Using a highly interactive and practice-based approach, you will leave class with new ways to be curious and collaborative. You will also develop your own concrete plan for how to build lasting chemistry with others.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  1. Build and strengthen authentic relationships with real decision-makers that drive material results.
  2. Improve your ability to truly understand your clients’ goals, needs, and fears.
  3. Capture hidden business opportunities (and competitive intelligence).
  4. Conquer the nuances of timing, medium, and content in planning and executing your messages in conversations, meetings, presentations, and digital communication.
  5. Feel more confident by activating the new knowledge you gain.

Core Content Modules

  • Giving more than you receive in your relationships (including random acts of kindness and tips for how to play the long game in building strategic relationships)
  • Strategic rapport-building including exercises to practice these high-level skills
  • Asking the right questions by using a process of curiosity and collaborative conversations (the three C’s)
  • Listening for shared experiences to build lasting chemistry with all types of clients
  • Personal communication styles as a path toward relationship-building and stronger communication
  • Overcoming the challenges of digital communication in establishing and sustaining business relationships
Certificate Requirements


Details & Registration

Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 0.6 CEUs will be awarded upon completion of this program (six hours of instruction)

One-Day Seminar Pricing:

Registration fee includes all course materials, catering (lunch and refreshments), WiFi access, and parking.

  • Standard Registration: $1,000
  • UT System Staff/Alumni Registration: $750
  • Educator, Nonprofit, Government, Military Registration: $750

Get employer support! We’ve gathered resources to help you make the case for your employer to support your HDO education.

If you have questions prior to registering, please see our Professional Training FAQ or contact Andrew M. Vasquez, HDO’s Enrollment & Success Coordinator at

Course Leader(s)

Keri Stephens, Ph.D.

Keri Stephens, Ph.D., has been a professor in the Moody College of Communication since 2007. She has taught Communicating to Build Sales Relationships for 15 years and along with her McCombs Business School colleagues, she co-founded the UT Austin Professional Sales and Business Development Minor that is open to all majors across campus.

She began her career working for Hewlett-Packard as a field engineer in a role that combined her biochemistry degree with business development. She spent a decade working in laboratory robotics and automation before she returned to get her graduate degrees in organizational communication. She is an award-winning book author, has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, and was selected as a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at UT Austin. She regularly advises and conducts workshops for a variety of corporate, nonprofit, governmental, and academic institutions.

Rodney Schlosser

Rodney Schlosser is Sr. Vice President/Business Development & Strategic Partnerships at Asurion, a Nashville-based vendor to the mobile, cable, telco, and consumer electronics industries. In his 20+ years at the company, he has successfully identified, cultivated, and won new clients that propelled the company from <$100M in annual revenue when he joined in 1999 to >$8B in 2022. The key has been building strong, trustworthy, and enduring business relationships across client organizations.

Rodney will share what he’s learned calling on companies of all sizes, what’s work, what’s failed, and how he’s adapted as technology has changed the way people interact. He’ll also explain how many of these same principles have applied to his leadership of several non-profit boards, and his current civic work as a member of the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) Board, which runs Texas’ largest public transit agency and light rail network. Prior to Asurion, Rodney held executive positions with Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems (now AT&T), and a division of Time Warner.

Who Should Participate

Functions: Business Development, Enterprise & Professional Services Sales, Fundraising, Government Relations, Association Management, Account Management, Community Relations

Titles: Executive Director, Vice President, Director, CEO, Managing Director, National Accounts Lead, Account Manager, Communications Managers/Directors, Development Officer, Chief Fundraiser, Consultant, Business Development Officer, Client Relations Executive, Partner


HDO Seminars prepare me in ways that I didn’t even know were possible. The lessons constantly open my mind to new ways of thinking and interacting with people and my surroundings.

Rachel White

Marketing Director, Keyfive

From Certificate Seeker to Competitive Advantage in Just Four Days

Built on strong academic fundamentals and real-world relevance, HDO Certificate Programs are designed to enhance the portfolios of mid- and upper-level professionals.

Over the course of your program, you will gain immediately-applicable tools and skills to accelerate your career, whether your goal is advancing in your current organization, deepening your capacities to excel in your existing role, or developing additional skills for a transition to a new position. In the process, you will learn alongside and network with experienced professionals from a wide range of industries.

Courses Led by Top Faculty

“My favorite part of the Certificate Program was, hands down, the cross-disciplinary faculty. What remarkable minds! I gained multiple new lenses through which to view workplace challenges. I felt so lucky to have exposure and access to these extraordinary educators. The HDO faculty is world class. I can’t stop raving.”

Sarah Gerichten, Director of Marketing, Square Root, Inc.

Transform Your Organization with Group Training

By applying cutting-edge research and expertise from UT Austin’s top faculty to your organization’s unique challenges, our training programs are designed to:

  1. Build a dynamic organizational culture that fosters innovative thinking and embraces change.
  2. Strengthen team cohesion around existing or aspirational goals.
  3. Enhance leadership skills at all levels, from first-time managers to senior leaders and executives.