It’s easy to create mental barriers between “friends” and “business.” But there are ways to nurture business relationships with friends–without jeopardizing either. Here are three things to be mindful of to make sure both sides are happy.
1. Seek the win-win.
Put yourself in the shoes of your friend and seek out ideas for how you might be able to solve his or her problems. The stakes don’t have to be particularly high early on; the key is to find a way that you can both benefit from an initial business interaction. A quick win can be something as simple as sharing connections or finding similar challenges that you can problem-solve together. Regardless of the situation, find some way to help each other and keep the conversation alive so you can continue to find situations that benefit both parties in the future.
2. Seek to help first.
It’s always better to give than to receive, especially when dealing with friends in a business context. Start the relationship before you need something by offering assistance, connections, opportunities or recommendations. A great way to initiate the conversation is through two proven questions: How’s business? How are you doing professionally?
3. Choose the right time and place.
A dinner party or a sporting event is a great opportunity to initiative a conversation, but it’s generally not the right venue to talk about establishing a business partnership. Instead, use the dinner party as an opportunity to schedule a follow-up discussion in an environment better-suited for business. Lunch, coffee, an office meeting, and drinks at a bar can all be effective-it’s just a matter of figuring out where you’re most comfortable and what venue best fits your existing relationship.
Any strong business relationship is based on trust, so why not develop business relationships that already have a strong foundation of trust, through friendship? As long as you focus on creating value for both parties, there’s no reason to erect an artificial wall separating friends from business.
If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!