There are plethora blog posts about how to network and make those you are networking with feel connected to you. You can use good eye contact, use the person’s name a lot, and keep the focus of the conversation on them because people love talking about themselves.
But what about your friends? They are the ones that when you are in Texas for cancer treatment, you just have to see them. You go to food trucks with them and they let you take over their house with your baby. Or when they rent out their house and need a shower, they come to you.
They are the ones where the friendship is the leading role and anything professional is always secondary. You have a common interest, whether it is spiritual, sports, reading, coffee, or something else, it is what bonded you initially. Then, somewhere along the journey, you really started liking one another. You wanted to hang out more and you found balance through that relationship. They make you a better person and a better professional. You both need one another deeper than you probably will ever recognize.
I have a three friends that I really admire. They do amazing work with great skill and creativity. What I have found is that stellar friends often move up quickly in their desired field. So how does one find the balance in utilizing the resource of close friends and keeping a great friendship?
I have three friends that I have in mind as I write this:
Ian VanHover, co-owner and COO of Rocket Mobile, they build apps, consult, and help with branding with beautiful design www.rocketmobile.co
Aaron Dennis, owner of Stone Hut Studios, he does “Films for a Better World” www.stonehutstudios.com
Chealsea Bay Dennis, owner of Chelsea Bay Design, she offers “Good for the World” services and design. www.chelseabaydesign.com
As I said earlier, the friendship is always the leading factor. Anything that could get in the way of that should be discussed and/or avoided with your friend. For example, I would work on projects with any of these friends, but I would not lend them money. The risk of losing the friendship is too great. Because I know their work ethics and abilities to create amazing work, I would feel comfortable doing direct work with them. However, that has only come over time in our relationship.
Learn from Your Friends
Over the past several years Ian, Aaron, and Chelsea have grown in their careers. Ian helped launch an app development company with this really cool kid’s story that is interactive with a good message, but not enough to build ADHD wildness. It is called “Plug and the Paddywhacks.”
Aaron launched his own studio after increased demand for his work. He is releasing his first feature length documentary “The People and the Olive” in September 2012.
Chelsea launched Chelsea Bay Design to offer affordable design options for companies, non-profits, and individuals that are doing really great work to create a better planet.
Over time, people with great customer service, innovative design, and a chutzpah to push what society has already tried tend to be successful. It doesn’t always happen, but as your friends grow, so do your opportunities.
I have not hesitated to ask my friends for advice, book recommendations, and ways that I can improve my businesses. Ian just recommended a number of awesome books on branding. Chelsea helped guide me toward WordPress. Aaron spent a week filming my therapeutic sailing program.
Help Your Friends Succeed.
I love to see good people succeed. When I see an incredible person in a friendship, I want to see them get more exposure so their touch can influence more people. It is sort of like when you have that talents, wonderful, and smart single friend that really wants to get married, you know that it is going to be awesome if you/they find the right match. You long for them to grow in their goals.
Whenever I can, I try and link my friends with my network. I may introduce them via email or in person and tell them why they really should connect. I don’t know why, how, or what they will create, but if two crazy-awesome people connect, it will usually blow my mind.
In all of this, the goal is not an “if I do this, then I get this” attitude. Instead, it is a deep excitement for my friend’s success. When they create and innovate, I want the world to know more about them. It may return back to me, but that is never the goal.
So whoever the Ian, Aaron, and Chelsea are in your world, start collaborating and connecting. As they grow and innovate, most likely, so will you.
Joseph R. Sanok is a counselor and the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. Is also a LLPC supervisor and helps counselors in private practice to grow their businesses. He also plans to start offering consultation and business seminars on a sailboat in the summer of 2013.