You’ve Got to Have Friends
Going off the advice of Bette Midler, it is important to have friends. Not just the ones that come over for a beer or a game of cards. You need business friends as well. Friends give you support, point you in the right direction, and encourage you. Many business owners have a desire to go it alone, but that is a mistake. Your business friends are an important commodity and lead to success. Some of these friends will be clients, others will be colleagues, but regardless they are great resources and people you can count on.
Find a Place to Hang
Where do you find business friends? Business associations and chambers of commerce are a good place to start. Nearly every town has some. Also, there are numerous online forums where like-minded individuals are plentiful. I belong to a forum titled About Writing Squared that is set-up for freelancers and creatives. I have cultivated many relationships there. You can post a question and get timely responses with friendly advice. Just like face-to-face relationships you get what you put into it. The more you contribute to the community the more the community gives back to you. Take a moment to introduce your self, share some personal interests, and background information, and soon you become part of a community.
Not Just Income
Another opportunity to make friendships is with your clients. Trust you’ve built in a working relationship can transfer into other arenas. One of my first clients helped me with daily business operations, because we were friends. I have sought his advice on bookkeeping, corporation versus sole proprietorship, and home office set-up. Our working relationship began with me writing a press release for his business and went from there. I recommend his products whenever possible and he sends referrals my way. The line becomes fuzzy when you are “working” for a friend, but if you are upfront and have open communication I believe those circumstances will be adverted. I’m not suggesting that you must have clients over for your daughter’s third birthday party, but it is a possibility. What I do recommend is considering the relationship, and the benefits of having a client as a friend and not just a sale. Being open to the idea leads to long-term success in business, along with a loyal clientele.
Reach Out to Those You Admire
One of the greatest attributes of today’s connected world is the ability to talk with anyone, anywhere in the world. Even ten years ago I would not be able to interact with the writers I do today. Through social media you can learn directly from those you admire. Many industry leaders hold webinars, podcasts or host their own blog. These media outlets give you insight and opportunity to connect with them. Take some time to respond to updates or announcements and you may receive a direct response from those you admire. I am very happy to say that I have several friendships with writers I admire greatly. They are very forthcoming with advice or tools to make my job easier. Take a chance to make connections and watch your business prosper.
Business friendships are a valuable asset and lead to greater success. I suggest you look for ways to forge more of them. Please leave a comment about the importance of friends in your business.