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Thursday, 12 October 2017 07:25

In what way is career or business networking the same as making good friends?

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I’m going to take a contrary position and say that it isn’t, in my opinion.

Good friendships develop over a period of time, based on many factors. Bill Doerr provided some excellent factors that foster development of a friendship i.e. trust, reciprocity, longevity, fragility and maintenance.

Where I take exception is the use of the term ‘good’ when it comes to describing friends.

In our web of connections, we have what can be called our Crisis Circle. These are the people we can really count on. You should have at least four people who will be supportive in the event of death, illness, divorce or bankruptcy. They can include family, friends, your doctor or lawyer.

Then there’s your Buddy Circle. Friends you have fun with, the people who accept you for who you are. There should be at least three people in this circle.

Next, the third circle, is your Professional Circle. These are people who know you professionally, can provide reference letters and can speak about the quality of your work and character. You need at least 12 people in this category.

The Fourth Circle is your casual friends circle. These are people you share ideas with. You may work with them or know them through organizations or volunteer work. Some may become closer friends and eventually form part of the more inner and intimate circles.

For those of us who have been active on Linkedin, our network of connections would likely fit into the Professional Circle. And many of our Facebook connections would fit into the Fourth Circle of casual friends.

The point I want to make here is that we go through life we connect with countless numbers of people that we either maintain contact with or not.

When we network for career or business purposes, it shouldn’t be a numbers game. Think quality over quantity. With the right nurturing of the developing relationships, in time, some of these new connections may develop into good friends.

I believe that the term ‘friends’ has been watered down as of late with the terminology becoming ensconced in Facebook practice. Having hundreds or thousands of ‘friends’ in Facebook does not mean that you are well loved or even known for that matter. Try asking some of your distant Facebook friends for a loan of money and see what happens.

When it comes to business and career networking, I think one would be well advised to consider the possibilities. We will develop strong relationships and some weak ones. Weak ones can be nurtured if there is the possibility of mutual advantage. Perhaps not.

Some will develop into good friends, most won’t. Probably the best way to make new friends is to be one yourself.


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